Darwinism Evolution Intelligent Design

Biology evolves: One-third of biologists now question Darwinism

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The figure is suggested by Michael Behe, based on reading and conversations with his colleagues. Of course, it’s a bit like asking how many citizens of the People’s Democratic Republic of Dungeon disapprove of the government. It’s not like you can ask them to vote on it or anything. Still:

A controversial letter to Nature in 2014 signaled the mounting concern, however slow and cautious, among thoughtful professional biologists. Other works by atheist authors like “What Darwin Got Wrong” and “Mind and Cosmos” find “fatal flaws” in the theory and assert it is “almost certainly false.”

Another project, The Third Way, seeks to avoid a false choice between divine intervention (which it outright rejects) and the Neo-Darwinian model (which it finds unsupported in the face of modern molecular theory) while presenting evidence to improve evolution theory beyond Neo-Darwinism. Some even believe billions of years have not been adequate for Darwinian theory to accomplish current complexity, as the theory currently exists.

This dissatisfaction is a matter of public record, even if it lacks public attention, and despite the narrative running contrary. Indeed dedicated Neo-Darwinists often say “no serious scientists disagree” or “only creationists have problems.” These contentions are increasingly disproven. Benjamin R. Dierker, “Why One-Third Of Biologists Now Question Darwinism” at The Federalist

Don’t miss Dierker’s interesting information about the Third Way.

Meanwhile, what was that story flapping past just the other day?

Oh, yes: Astronomer Martin Rees reacts to Suzan Mazur’s Darwin Overthrown. The story addresses the way Rees has been in the background of creative thinkers in biology who are grappling with what we now know.

Non-Darwinian things.

Naw. Just a fluke. Then there’s this one:  Backing down on Darwinian fundamentalism? If we are going to talk about “considerable debate” and “much that is unknown,” let’s consider the way underlying Darwinian fundamentalism skews discussions. 

Hey, look, everything could just be a fluke, you know.

See also: If no one is really a Darwinist any more… (as some commenters claim) … How come Darwinian philosopher Michael Ruse says, “Today’s professional evolutionists are committed Darwinians… ?”  Could he be blowing smoke? 

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68 Replies to “Biology evolves: One-third of biologists now question Darwinism

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    Oh,yes, obviously the first person I turn to for a competent evaluation of the current state of evolutionary biology is going to be “a law student at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University.”

  2. 2
    News says:

    Seversky at 1, the law student did a reasonably good job of identifying key points in the timeline. If he takes another stab at it, he should look at Mazur’s The Altenberg 16: An exposé of the evolution industry (2010) and Royal Society: Public Evolution Summit. The cast of characters is now rather large and some of the interrelationships are quite interesting.

    Some of us would not have suspected that Martin Rees was encouraging those who see past Darwin, but there you go.

  3. 3

    As my former boss and retired Marine Corp. General used to say:
    “[That Darwinian Evolution is false rubbish] should be obvious even to a sea-going corporal.”

  4. 4
    Bob O'H says:

    This is the evidence for the one third figure:

    Based on conversations with my own colleagues at Lehigh [University], dozens of other biologists, and news stories in journals I would guesstimate that a third or more of biologists are quite skeptical that Darwin’s theory explains all of biology

    In my professional opinion, I don’t think that has a great deal of statistical validity.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Bob (and weave) O’Hara states, “In my professional opinion, I don’t think that has a great deal of statistical validity.”

    Yet seeing that Bob (and weave) O’Hara’s ‘professional opinion’ is that Darwinism is true in the first place then that pretty much renders Bob (and weave) O’Hara’s ‘professional opinion’ about anything else completely worthless.

    In fact, in one of the more humorous falsifications of Darwin’s theory, (out of many falsifications of Darwin’s theory), is that if Darwinian evolution were actually true then any opinions and/or beliefs, (‘professional’ or otherwise), that anyone may have would be completely worthless.

    First off, if Darwinian evolution were true, then any opinions and/or beliefs that a person may hold are not arrived at via the free will choices of that person between logical options, but their opinion(s) was arrived at purely by the prior physiological state of that person’s brain. In short, if Darwinian evolution were actually true then a person has ‘no choice’ whatsoever in whatever opinions and/or beliefs he may hold to be true or not.

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....66221.html

    1) rationality implies a thinker in control of thoughts.
    (2) under materialism a thinker is an effect caused by processes in the brain.
    (3) in order for materialism to ground rationality a thinker (an effect) must control processes in the brain (a cause). (1)&(2)
    (4) no effect can control its cause.
    Therefore materialism cannot ground rationality.
    per Box UD

    In fact, Richard Darwkins himself admitted that “Since we are creatures of natural selection, we cannot totally trust our senses. Evolution only passes on traits that help a species survive, and not concerned with preserving traits that tell a species what is actually true about life.”

    Why Atheism is Nonsense Pt.5 – “Naturalism is a Self-defeating Idea”video
    Excerpt: “Since we are creatures of natural selection, we cannot totally trust our senses. Evolution only passes on traits that help a species survive, and not concerned with preserving traits that tell a species what is actually true about life.”
    Richard Dawkins – quoted from “The God Delusion”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ff-5rsrDRGM

    Likewise Steven Pinker stated that “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” And as Dr. Pearcey pointed out, “The theory undercuts itself.,,, Of course, the atheist pursuing his research has no choice but to rely on rationality, just as everyone else does. The point is that he has no philosophical basis for doing so. Only those who affirm a rational Creator have a basis for trusting human rationality.”

    Why Evolutionary Theory Cannot Survive Itself – Nancy Pearcey – March 8, 2015
    Excerpt: Steven Pinker writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” The upshot is that survival is no guarantee of truth. If survival is the only standard, we can never know which ideas are true and which are adaptive but false.
    To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.
    So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.,,,
    Of course, the atheist pursuing his research has no choice but to rely on rationality, just as everyone else does. The point is that he has no philosophical basis for doing so. Only those who affirm a rational Creator have a basis for trusting human rationality.
    The reason so few atheists and materialists seem to recognize the problem is that, like Darwin, they apply their skepticism selectively. They apply it to undercut only ideas they reject, especially ideas about God. They make a tacit exception for their own worldview commitments.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....94171.html

    Alvin Plantinga has extended this argument into what is called the ‘Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism’

    Should You Trust the Monkey Mind? – Joe Carter
    Excerpt: Evolutionary naturalism assumes that our noetic equipment developed as it did because it had some survival value or reproductive advantage. Unguided evolution does not select for belief except insofar as the belief improves the chances of survival. The truth of a belief is irrelevant, as long as it produces an evolutionary advantage. This equipment could have developed at least four different kinds of belief that are compatible with evolutionary naturalism, none of which necessarily produce true and trustworthy cognitive faculties.
    http://www.firstthings.com/ont.....onkey-mind

    Is Atheism Irrational? By GARY GUTTING – NY Times – February 9, 2014
    Excerpt: GG: So your claim is that if materialism is true, evolution doesn’t lead to most of our beliefs being true.
    Plantinga: Right. In fact, given materialism and evolution, it follows that our belief-producing faculties are not reliable.
    Here’s why. If a belief is as likely to be false as to be true, we’d have to say the probability that any particular belief is true is about 50 percent. Now suppose we had a total of 100 independent beliefs (of course, we have many more). Remember that the probability that all of a group of beliefs are true is the multiplication of all their individual probabilities. Even if we set a fairly low bar for reliability — say, that at least two-thirds (67 percent) of our beliefs are true — our overall reliability, given materialism and evolution, is exceedingly low: something like .0004. So if you accept both materialism and evolution, you have good reason to believe that your belief-producing faculties are not reliable.
    But to believe that is to fall into a total skepticism, which leaves you with no reason to accept any of your beliefs (including your beliefs in materialism and evolution!). The only sensible course is to give up the claim leading to this conclusion: that both materialism and evolution are true. Maybe you can hold one or the other, but not both. So if you’re an atheist simply because you accept materialism, maintaining your atheism means you have to give up your belief that evolution is true. Another way to put it: The belief that both materialism and evolution are true is self-refuting. It shoots itself in the foot. Therefore it can’t rationally be held.
    http://opinionator.blogs.nytim.....&_r=0

    Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (An Introduction) – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpQ1-AGPysM

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    On top of all that, Donald Hoffman has, through numerous computer simulations, proven that, if Darwinian evolution were actually true, then ALL of our perceptions of reality would be illusory:

    Donald Hoffman: Do we see reality as it is? – Video – 9:59 minute mark
    Quote: “fitness does depend on reality as it is, yes.,,, Fitness is not the same thing as reality as it is, and it is fitness, and not reality as it is, that figures centrally in the equations of evolution. So, in my lab, we have run hundreds of thousands of evolutionary game simulations with lots of different randomly chosen worlds and organisms that compete for resources in those worlds. Some of the organisms see all of the reality. Others see just part of the reality. And some see none of the reality. Only fitness. Who wins? Well I hate to break it to you but perception of reality goes extinct. In almost every simulation, organisms that see none of reality, but are just tuned to fitness, drive to extinction that perceive reality as it is. So the bottom line is, evolution does not favor veridical, or accurate perceptions. Those (accurate) perceptions of reality go extinct. Now this is a bit stunning. How can it be that not seeing the world accurately gives us a survival advantage?”
    https://youtu.be/oYp5XuGYqqY?t=601

    The Evolutionary Argument Against Reality – April 2016
    The cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman uses evolutionary game theory to show that our perceptions of an independent reality must be illusions.
    Excerpt: “The classic argument is that those of our ancestors who saw more accurately had a competitive advantage over those who saw less accurately and thus were more likely to pass on their genes that coded for those more accurate perceptions, so after thousands of generations we can be quite confident that we’re the offspring of those who saw accurately, and so we see accurately. That sounds very plausible. But I think it is utterly false. It misunderstands the fundamental fact about evolution, which is that it’s about fitness functions — mathematical functions that describe how well a given strategy achieves the goals of survival and reproduction. The mathematical physicist Chetan Prakash proved a theorem that I devised that says: According to evolution by natural selection, an organism that sees reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that sees none of reality but is just tuned to fitness. Never.”
    https://www.quantamagazine.org/20160421-the-evolutionary-argument-against-reality/

    Hoffman tried to limit his results to just our perceptions, but there is no reason why Hoffman’s results would not also apply to our cognitive faculties as well:

    The Case Against Reality – May 13, 2016
    Excerpt: Hoffman seems to come to a conclusion similar to the one Alvin Plantinga argues in ch. 10 of Where the Conflict Really Lies: we should not expect — in the absence of further argument — that creatures formed by a naturalistic evolutionary process would have veridical perceptions.,,,
    First, even if Hoffman’s argument were restricted to visual perception, and not to our cognitive faculties more generally (e.g., memory, introspection, a priori rational insight, testimonial belief, inferential reasoning, etc.), the conclusion that our visual perceptions would be wholly unreliable given natural selection would be sufficient for Plantinga’s conclusion of self-defeat. After all, reliance upon the veridicality of our visual perceptions was and always will be crucial for any scientific argument for the truth of evolution. So if these perceptions cannot be trusted, we have little reason to think evolutionary theory is true.
    Second, it’s not clear that Hoffman’s application of evolutionary game theory is only specially applicable to visual perception, rather than being relevant for our cognitive faculties generally. If “we find that veridical perceptions can be driven to extinction by non-veridical strategies that are tuned to utility rather than objective reality” (2010, p. 504, my emphasis), then why wouldn’t veridical cognitive faculties (more generally) be driven to extinction by non-veridical strategies that are tuned to utility rather than objective reality? After all, evolutionary theory purports to be the true account of the formation of all of our cognitive faculties, not just our faculty of visual perception. If evolutionary game theory proves that “true perception generally goes extinct” when “animals that perceive the truth compete with others that sacrifice truth for speed and energy-efficiency” (2008), why wouldn’t there be a similar sacrifice with respect to other cognitive faculties? In fact, Hoffman regards the following theorem as now proven: “According to evolution by natural selection, an organism that sees reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that sees none of reality but is just tuned to fitness” (Atlantic interview). But then wouldn’t it also be the case that an organism that cognizes reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that cognizes none of reality but is just tuned to fitness? On the evolutionary story, every cognitive faculty we have was produced by a process that was tuned to fitness (rather than tuned to some other value, such as truth).
    http://www.gregwelty.com/2016/.....t-reality/

    Moreover, even if Hoffman’s results applied only to our perceptions and not to our cognitive faculties, that still, since reliable observation is a necessary cornerstone of the scientific method itself, would falsify Darwinian evolution as being a valid scientific theory:

    Steps of the Scientific Method
    Observation/Research
    Hypothesis
    Prediction
    Experimentation
    Conclusion
    http://www.sciencemadesimple.c.....ethod.html

    Moreover, completely contrary to what Donald Hoffman found from the mathematics of population genetics,, conscious observation, far from being unreliable, is experimentally found to be far more integral to reality, i.e. far more reliable of reality, than the mathematics of population genetics had predicted. In the following experiment, it was found that reality doesn’t exist without an observer.

    New Mind-blowing Experiment Confirms That Reality Doesn’t Exist If You Are Not Looking at It – June 3, 2015
    Excerpt: The results of the Australian scientists’ experiment, which were published in the journal Nature Physics, show that this choice is determined by the way the object is measured, which is in accordance with what quantum theory predicts.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Truscott in a press release.,,,
    “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence,” he said.
    Thus, this experiment adds to the validity of the quantum theory and provides new evidence to the idea that reality doesn’t exist without an observer.
    http://themindunleashed.org/20.....at-it.html

    Apparently science itself could care less if Darwinists are forced to believe, because of the mathematics of population genetics, that ALL their observations of reality are illusory and unreliable! As Feynman himself stated, ‘If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.”

    The Scientific Method – Richard Feynman – video
    Quote: ‘If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It doesn’t make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are who made the guess, or what his name is… If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL6-x0modwY

    Thus in conclusion, Bob (and weave) O’Hara may have a very high opinion of his own ‘professional opinion’, but if Darwinian evolution were actually true, as Bob believes it to be, then Bob’s opinion, as well as everybody else’s opinion, would be completely worthless.

    In short, Darwinian evolution must necessarily be false since it renders belief in everything, including itself, illusory and therefore, by definition, false.

    2 Corinthians 10:5
    Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

  7. 7
    News says:

    Bob O’H at 4: You write “In my professional opinion, I don’t think that has a great deal of statistical validity.”

    For the record, in a situation where honest conversations are risky (cf Gunter Bechly), one can’t do reliable survey research. One relies instead on private discussions combined with observation of the patterns of events. The growth of the Dissent from Darwin group is another item to be thrown into the mix. I hope Dierker will continue to pursue this.

  8. 8
    Brother Brian says:

    Bob O’H@4, you beat me to it.

    News

    For the record, in a situation where honest conversations are risky (cf Gunter Bechly), one can’t do reliable survey research.

    Sure you can. Develop a non-biased set of survey questions with internal consistency checks. Sent them only to biologists with a link to the survey. You don’t have to ask for names. If you are concerned about non-biologists responding and skewing results you track responses by regions and match it to the number of biologists in each region that the survey was sent to.

  9. 9
    daveS says:

    BB,

    I don’t know anything about surveys, but it seems to me voluntary response bias could be a difficult problem here. Although I’m not sure in which direction the bias would go.

    I suspect most mainstream biologists, when noticing the survey is about whether they question Darwinism, would immediately click *delete* and move on to the next 20 emails from admins hounding them for reports on the progress of the accreditation committee.

  10. 10
    Brother Brian says:

    DaveS

    I suspect most mainstream biologists, when noticing the survey is about whether they question Darwinism, would immediately click *delete* and move on to the next 20 emails from admins hounding them for reports on the progress of the accreditation committee.”

    I suspect that you are correct, but I think this would apply to all surveys, not specifically this one. That is why return rates on surveys tend to be very low.

    But if I were to design a survey to test this, I would not ask questions like “Do you believe Darwinian evolution is wrong?” I would list the major elements of current evolutionary theory and ask the biologists to rank each on a scale of “Strongly supported by evidence and testing” to “Not supported by evidence and testing”.

  11. 11
    Seversky says:

    News @ 2

    Seversky at 1, the law student did a reasonably good job of identifying key points in the timeline.

    Maybe he did but that doesn’t make him any more competent an authority on evolutionary biology than you or I. Whether you agree with him or not, Behe is at least a professional in the field.

  12. 12
    Seversky says:

    Ayearningforpublius @ 3

    As my former boss and retired Marine Corp. General used to say:“[That Darwinian Evolution is false rubbish] should be obvious even to a sea-going corporal.”

    Great as my respect is for the US Marine Corps as one of the world’s elite military units, neither their corporals nor their generals are typically evolutionary biologists.

  13. 13
    Seversky says:

    Bornagain77 @ 5

    In fact, in one of the more humorous falsifications of Darwin’s theory, (out of many falsifications of Darwin’s theory), is that if Darwinian evolution were actually true then any opinions and/or beliefs, (‘professional’ or otherwise), that anyone may have would be completely worthless.

    Worthless? By what measure? According to whom?

    First off, if Darwinian evolution were true, then any opinions and/or beliefs that a person may hold are not arrived at via the free will choices of that person between logical options, but their opinion(s) was arrived at purely by the prior physiological state of that person’s brain. In short, if Darwinian evolution were actually true then a person has ‘no choice’ whatsoever in whatever opinions and/or beliefs he may hold to be true or not.

    Much like Peter’s triple denial of Jesus?

    The observation that mental processes are closely correlated with electro-chemical activity in the physical brain does not mean that one is absolutely and exclusively determined by the other. The third factor to consider is the environment in which that mind/brain has to operate and survive. In fact, we can argue that a system which can respond flexibly – in other words adapt – to environmental pressures would have a fitness advantage over the rigidly deterministic model you seem to envisage. Is that free will? That depends on what you mean by “free will”.

    Why Atheism is Nonsense Pt.5 – “Naturalism is a Self-defeating Idea”video
    Excerpt: “Since we are creatures of natural selection, we cannot totally trust our senses. Evolution only passes on traits that help a species survive, and not concerned with preserving traits that tell a species what is actually true about life.”
    Richard Dawkins – quoted from “The God Delusion”

    We can easily argue that the truer one’s understanding of the environment in which we have to survive, the greater our chances of survival. Therefore, a truth-seeking trait, at least in a proximate and pragmatic sense, would have a fitness value which would be more likely to be preserved. And if it was preserved it might be adapted to more philosophical considerations of truth.

    Is Atheism Irrational? By GARY GUTTING – NY Times – February 9, 2014
    Excerpt: GG: So your claim is that if materialism is true, evolution doesn’t lead to most of our beliefs being true.
    Plantinga: Right. In fact, given materialism and evolution, it follows that our belief-producing faculties are not reliable.
    Here’s why. If a belief is as likely to be false as to be true, we’d have to say the probability that any particular belief is true is about 50 percent. Now suppose we had a total of 100 independent beliefs (of course, we have many more). Remember that the probability that all of a group of beliefs are true is the multiplication of all their individual probabilities. Even if we set a fairly low bar for reliability — say, that at least two-thirds (67 percent) of our beliefs are true — our overall reliability, given materialism and evolution, is exceedingly low: something like .0004. So if you accept both materialism and evolution, you have good reason to believe that your belief-producing faculties are not reliable.

    On the assumption that there are many more ways for things to go wrong than to go right, then, yes, initially there will be many more false beliefs about a given phenomenon than true ones. Our beliefs generally will be unreliable. But if those beliefs have fitness consequences – in other words, false beliefs are more likely to get you killed whereas true ones are more likely to keep you alive – then, over time, natural selection will tend to filter out the false beliefs leaving only the true ones – and the mental processes which gave rise to them. Therefore truth-seeking will have survival value.

  14. 14
    daveS says:

    Brother Brian,

    Thanks, that’s a much more intelligent approach than what I had in mind.

  15. 15
    Brother Brian says:

    DaveS

    Thanks, that’s a much more intelligent approach than what I had in mind.

    Damn. That is two compliments on this site in two days. Where is ET to bring me back down to earth. 🙂

    But seriously, surveys are notoriously flawed. The way the question is worded can result in s different outcome.

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky’s post at 13 is a garbage heap of pure unsubstantiated opinion. I used Plantinga’s work and Hoffman’s work on population genetics itself, to show that if Darwinian evolution were true, then our beliefs and perceptions would be unreliable.

    Seversky did not even try to rigorously refute this but simply denied, via his own personal opinion, that it was so,

    Seversky’s post is a shining example of an atheist’s apriori atheistic belief trumping any and all countervailing evidence.

    As has been pointed out many times before, Darwinian evolution is a dogmatic religion far more than it is a falsifiable science,,,

    GIVING UP DARWIN – May 2019
    “The religion is all on the other side. Meyer and other proponents of I.D. are the dispassionate intellectuals making orderly scientific arguments. Some I.D.-haters have shown themselves willing to use any argument—fair or not, true or not, ad hominem or not—to keep this dangerous idea locked in a box forever. They remind us of the extent to which Darwinism is no longer just a scientific theory but the basis of a worldview, and an emergency replacement religion for the many troubled souls who need one.”
    – David Gelernter is professor of computer science at Yale University, chief scientist at Mirror Worlds Technologies, and member of the National Council of the Arts.
    https://www.claremont.org/crb/article/giving-up-darwin

  17. 17
    hazel says:

    From above, Plantinga writes,

    In fact, given materialism and evolution, it follows that our belief-producing faculties are not reliable.
    Here’s why. If a belief is as likely to be false as to be true, we’d have to say the probability that any particular belief is true is about 50 percent. Now suppose we had a total of 100 independent beliefs (of course, we have many more). Remember that the probability that all of a group of beliefs are true is the multiplication of all their individual probabilities. Even if we set a fairly low bar for reliability — say, that at least two-thirds (67 percent) of our beliefs are true — our overall reliability, given materialism and evolution, is exceedingly low: something like .0004

    That is just about the stupidest argument I’ve ever heard.

  18. 18
    Brother Brian says:

    Hazel

    That is just about the stupidest argument I’ve ever heard.

    Stick around. 🙂

  19. 19
    bornagain77 says:

    Hazel, instead of you merely stating your ‘stupid’ atheistic opinion that “That is just about the stupidest argument I’ve ever heard” perhaps you can provide actual examples of where a set of initial beliefs are far more likely to be true than not.

    Science itself, with its multitude of discarded false hypothesis, and its relatively few true hypothesis that have survived the ’empirical gauntlet’ to be accepted as true, argues very strongly against your position that any given set of initial beliefs will most likely be true. (Much less do you have any empirical evidence for your proposition that Darwinian processes will produce reliable cognitive faculties), (Shoot you don’t even have any evidence that Darwinian processes can produce even a single functional protein, much less reliable cognitive faculties))

    Moreover, to make matters much worse for Darwinists, the acceptance of the veracity of those true hypothesis by scientists as being true is certainly not arrived at via Darwinian processes, but is arrived at via rational discourse, which again, is the one thing that atheistic materialism, with its denial of free will, prevents a person from ever having.

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....66221.html

    1) rationality implies a thinker in control of thoughts.
    (2) under materialism a thinker is an effect caused by processes in the brain.
    (3) in order for materialism to ground rationality a thinker (an effect) must control processes in the brain (a cause). (1)&(2)
    (4) no effect can control its cause.
    Therefore materialism cannot ground rationality.
    per Box UD

    Moreover, besides the fact that the atheistic materialist forsakes any claim that he is making a rational argument in the first place when he denies the reality of his own free will, I can also appeal to empirical evidence from both neuroscience and quantum mechanics to support the reality of free will.

    (December 2018) Neuroscientific and quantum validation of free will
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/three-knockdown-proofs-of-the-immateriality-of-mind-and-why-computers-compute-not-think/#comment-670445

    Thus again, the atheist is at a complete loss to explain even the ‘simple’ proposition of how a person might arrive at a true belief, whereas the Christian Theist is, once again, found to be sitting very well in regards to both logic and empirical evidence.

    To put all this in proper perspective, it is good to look at the ‘beyond belief’ complexity of the brain itself which Darwinists have absolutely no hope of ever explaining in Darwinian terms:

    The Human Brain Is ‘Beyond Belief’ by Jeffrey P. Tomkins, Ph.D. * – 2017
    Excerpt: The human brain,, is an engineering marvel that evokes comments from researchers like “beyond anything they’d imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief”1 and “a world we had never imagined.”2,,,
    Perfect Optimization
    The scientists found that at multiple hierarchical levels in the whole brain, nerve cell clusters (ganglion), and even at the individual cell level, the positioning of neural units achieved a goal that human engineers strive for but find difficult to achieve—the perfect minimizing of connection costs among all the system’s components.,,,
    Vast Computational Power
    Researchers discovered that a single synapse is like a computer’s microprocessor containing both memory-storage and information-processing features.,,, Just one synapse alone can contain about 1,000 molecular-scale microprocessor units acting in a quantum computing environment. An average healthy human brain contains some 200 billion nerve cells connected to one another through hundreds of trillions of synapses. To put this in perspective, one of the researchers revealed that the study’s results showed a single human brain has more information processing units than all the computers, routers, and Internet connections on Earth.1,,,
    Phenomenal Processing Speed
    the processing speed of the brain had been greatly underrated. In a new research study, scientists found the brain is 10 times more active than previously believed.6,7,,,
    The large number of dendritic spikes also means the brain has more than 100 times the computational capabilities than was previously believed.,,,
    Petabyte-Level Memory Capacity
    Our new measurements of the brain’s memory capacity increase conservative estimates by a factor of 10 to at least a petabyte, in the same ballpark as the World Wide Web.9,,,
    Optimal Energy Efficiency
    Stanford scientist who is helping develop computer brains for robots calculated that a computer processor functioning with the computational capacity of the human brain would require at least 10 megawatts to operate properly. This is comparable to the output of a small hydroelectric power plant. As amazing as it may seem, the human brain requires only about 10 watts to function.11 ,,,
    Multidimensional Processing
    It is as if the brain reacts to a stimulus by building then razing a tower of multi-dimensional blocks, starting with rods (1D), then planks (2D), then cubes (3D), and then more complex geometries with 4D, 5D, etc. The progression of activity through the brain resembles a multi-dimensional sandcastle that materializes out of the sand and then disintegrates.13
    He also said:
    We found a world that we had never imagined. There are tens of millions of these objects even in a small speck of the brain, up through seven dimensions. In some networks, we even found structures with up to eleven dimensions.13,,,
    Biophoton Brain Communication
    Neurons contain many light-sensitive molecules such as porphyrin rings, flavinic, pyridinic rings, lipid chromophores, and aromatic amino acids. Even the mitochondria machines that produce energy inside cells contain several different light-responsive molecules called chromophores. This research suggests that light channeled by filamentous cellular structures called microtubules plays an important role in helping to coordinate activities in different regions of the brain.,,,
    https://www.icr.org/article/10186

    Perhaps atheists should concentrate on trying to explain where a single neuron of that ‘beyond belief’ complexity came from before they try to take on the task of trying explain the origin of reliable cognitive faculties from a Darwinian perspective

    “Complexity Brake” Defies Evolution – August 8, 2012
    Excerpt: Consider a neuronal synapse — the presynaptic terminal has an estimated 1000 distinct proteins. Fully analyzing their possible interactions would take about 2000 years. Or consider the task of fully characterizing the visual cortex of the mouse — about 2 million neurons. Under the extreme assumption that the neurons in these systems can all interact with each other, analyzing the various combinations will take about 10 million years…, even though it is assumed that the underlying technology speeds up by an order of magnitude each year.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....62961.html

    Human Brains Have Always Been Unique – June 22, 2017
    Excerpt: ‘To truly understand how the brain maintains our human intellect, we would need to know about the state of all 86 billion neurons and their 100 trillion interconnections, as well as the varying strengths with which they are connected, and the state of more than 1,000 proteins that exist at each connection point.’
    – Mark Maslin
    https://crev.info/2017/06/human-brains-always-unique/

  20. 20
    hazel says:

    ba writes, “perhaps you can provide actual examples of where a set of initial beliefs are far more likely to be true than not.”

    In the Colin Patterson thread I pointed out that “I know not to walk off a 1000 ft cliff because I will fall and kill myself.” I believe that has a better than 50% chance of being true.

  21. 21
    bornagain77 says:

    But how in blue blazes, via atheistic materialism, did you arrive at that true belief? That is Plantinga’s whole point. You have no warrant, much less empirical demonstration, that Darwinian processes produced that true belief,

    Atheistic materialism, especially with its denial of free will, simply cannot explain the ‘ORIGIN” of true beliefs.

    ALVIN PLANTINGA’S EVOLUTIONARY ARGUMENT AGAINST NATURALISM
    July 9, 2016
    Plantinga notes that if human beings are a result of the evolutionary process then one needs to maintain that the main purpose of our cognitive faculties are for survival and reproductive fitness. In other words, as a process, evolution doesn’t care about truth or true beliefs. Rather, it only cares whether or not our actions are adaptive and whether or not they contribute to our fitness. As Plantinga argues, if this is the case then the naturalist would be unwarranted to expect his or her cognitive faculties to be aimed at truth.

    The implications for the naturalist are significant. If one’s mind is merely aimed at survival then it follows that the mind cannot be trusted when it thinks it knows the truth. This would undermine the trustworthiness of the human cognitive faculty as atheists themselves such as Friedrich Nietzsche and Thomas Nagel have noted. Even Charles Darwin, the mind who established that all species of life descended over time from common ancestors, likewise saw this dilemma,
    “But then 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 anyone trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”

    According to Plantinga,

    “This argument has to do with the reliability of your cognitive faculties like memory and perception, intuition, and mathematical or logical intuition… I think if you accept naturalism and evolution you can’t think of your cognitive faculties as being reliable, as giving you the actual truth about the world… The argument goes like this. If you’re a naturalist you will probably also be a materialist about human beings. You’ll think that human beings are material objects. They are not immaterial souls that have a body. Now suppose we think about some creatures on an alien planet that are a lot like us. Let’s suppose for them that naturalism holds, that evolution holds, and that these creatures are material objects. So what is it that causes their behaviour? What causes their behaviour will be neurology, the states of which their neurons are firing sending a signal down to a muscle causing it to contract. And their beliefs and the content of these beliefs are also caused by neurology. Now given that evolution is true these creatures have come into being by virtue of natural selection we can take it for granted that their behaviour is adaptive, it enhances their fitness which leads to survival and reproduction. If that is true the same thing will go for what causes their behaviour, namely their neurology which also promotes survival and reproduction. The neurology that causes their behaviour also causes their beliefs, but now the question is “suppose their behaviour is in fact adaptive what about the truths of these beliefs?” Well, I think that you can see that it doesn’t matter about the truths of these beliefs. If their neurology causes the right behaviour what they believe makes no difference. The belief, one might say, floats along like an extra that’s caused by the neurology. But the beliefs don’t have to be true for the neurology to be adaptive. If the neurology causes false beliefs but causes the right actions it makes no difference whatsoever. So, if you take a given belief on the part of one of these creatures and ask “What is the probability given that naturalism and evolution and materialism that the belief is true?” It’s got to be fairly close to 50/50, it is likely to be true as false, or it likely to be false as true. If that is the case then the probability that their cognitive faculties are reliable, which produces a substantial proportion of true beliefs that reliability requires, the probability that their faculties will be reliable will be very low” (1).

    The prominent atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel has also seen this challenge,

    “Evolutionary naturalism provides an account of our capacities that undermines their reliability, and in doing so undermines itself…

    In fact, Nagel appeals to Plantinga,

    “I agree with Alvin Plantinga that… the application of evolutionary theory to the understanding of our own cognitive capacities should undermine, though it need not completely destroy, our confidence in them. Mechanisms of belief formation that have selective advantage in the everyday struggle for existence do not warrant our confidence in the construction of theoretical accounts of the world as a whole. I think the evolutionary hypothesis would imply that though our cognitive capacities could be reliable, we do not have the kind of reason to rely on them that we ordinarily take ourselves to have using in them directly-as we do in science” (2).

    What is the conclusion Plantinga draws from the argument? If his argument follows then it,

    “provides a defeater for your natural instinctive belief that your cognitive faculties are reliable… you get a reason not to hold that belief, a reason to reject it.” Thus combining naturalism with evolution is self-defeating because the probability that humans would have reliable cognitive faculties as a result is so overwhelming low. The human cognitive faculty cannot be trusted to produce more true beliefs than false beliefs. Thus to assert that naturalistic evolution is true the naturalist also asserts that one has a low or unknown probability of being right. If evolution is true, which the vast majority of naturalists believe to be the case, then ascribing truth to naturalism and evolution is dubious or inconsistent.

    References.

    1. What is the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism, Alvin Plantinga. Available.

    2. Nagel, T. 2012. Mind and Cosmos. p. 27-28.
    https://jamesbishopblog.com/2016/07/09/the-evolutionary-argument-against-naturalism/

    And again, Hoffman has, via population genetics itself, basically validated Plantinga’s entire argument through numerous computer simulations:

    The Case Against Reality – May 13, 2016
    Excerpt: Hoffman seems to come to a conclusion similar to the one Alvin Plantinga argues in ch. 10 of Where the Conflict Really Lies: we should not expect — in the absence of further argument — that creatures formed by a naturalistic evolutionary process would have veridical perceptions.,,,
    First, even if Hoffman’s argument were restricted to visual perception, and not to our cognitive faculties more generally (e.g., memory, introspection, a priori rational insight, testimonial belief, inferential reasoning, etc.), the conclusion that our visual perceptions would be wholly unreliable given natural selection would be sufficient for Plantinga’s conclusion of self-defeat. After all, reliance upon the veridicality of our visual perceptions was and always will be crucial for any scientific argument for the truth of evolution. So if these perceptions cannot be trusted, we have little reason to think evolutionary theory is true.
    Second, it’s not clear that Hoffman’s application of evolutionary game theory is only specially applicable to visual perception, rather than being relevant for our cognitive faculties generally. If “we find that veridical perceptions can be driven to extinction by non-veridical strategies that are tuned to utility rather than objective reality” (2010, p. 504, my emphasis), then why wouldn’t veridical cognitive faculties (more generally) be driven to extinction by non-veridical strategies that are tuned to utility rather than objective reality? After all, evolutionary theory purports to be the true account of the formation of all of our cognitive faculties, not just our faculty of visual perception. If evolutionary game theory proves that “true perception generally goes extinct” when “animals that perceive the truth compete with others that sacrifice truth for speed and energy-efficiency” (2008), why wouldn’t there be a similar sacrifice with respect to other cognitive faculties? In fact, Hoffman regards the following theorem as now proven: “According to evolution by natural selection, an organism that sees reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that sees none of reality but is just tuned to fitness” (Atlantic interview). But then wouldn’t it also be the case that an organism that cognizes reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that cognizes none of reality but is just tuned to fitness? On the evolutionary story, every cognitive faculty we have was produced by a process that was tuned to fitness (rather than tuned to some other value, such as truth).
    http://www.gregwelty.com/2016/.....t-reality/

    So again, its evidence against the apriori beliefs of atheists. Guess which one Hazel will choose?

  22. 22
    hazel says:

    ba writes, “But how in blue blazes, via atheistic materialism, did you arrive at that true belief? That is Plantinga’s whole point. You have no warrant, much less empirical demonstration, that Darwinian processes produced that true belief,”

    First, I assume by Darwinian processes you mean according to a materialist philosophy. I am not a materialist, and don’t think much about what “Darwinian processes” are.

    But that is immaterial, and your question is weird. People have arrived at the belief that falling long distance hurts and kills people by watching people fall and get hurt. I don’t even know what point you could be trying to make. We know it’s true because we can see what happens.

  23. 23
    bornagain77 says:

    “I am not a materialist, and don’t think much about what “Darwinian processes” are.”

    But somehow feels free to comment on Plantinga’s argument?

    Bangs head on keyboard
    https://media0.giphy.com/media/26BRq84rhISRcFVUQ/giphy.gif?

  24. 24
    hazel says:

    Don’t hurt yourself! 🙂

  25. 25
    hazel says:

    No matter what your metaphysics is, starting with “If a belief is as likely to be false as to be true, we’d have to say the probability that any particular belief is true is about 50 percent” is stupid. Whatever belief is, or where it comes from, it’s not just a random coin flip.

  26. 26
    Brother Brian says:

    Hazel

    That is just about the stupidest argument I’ve ever heard.

    Me

    Stick around.

    And after a couple responses to you all I can say is, “I told you so.”

  27. 27
    bornagain77 says:

    “Whatever belief is, or where it comes from, it’s not just a random coin flip.”

    Welcome to Christianity.

    Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.
    — C.S. Lewis (from, The Case for Christianity)

    “One absolutely central inconsistency ruins [the popular scientific philosophy]. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears… unless Reason is an absolute, all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based.”
    —C.S. Lewis, Is Theology Poetry (aka the Argument from Reason)

    Brother Brian, you, having now displaced Seversky as the resident troll, are currently the reigning king of ‘stupid arguments’ on UD.

  28. 28
    hazel says:

    Lawful processes don’t produce random results. It doesn’t take Christianity, or even theism, to understand that.

  29. 29
    bornagain77 says:

    Hazel you claim that evolution is a ‘lawful process’? Really??? Perhaps you would care to elucidate the exact laws behind the evolutionary process. No one else has been able to find them.

    As Ernst Mayr himself conceded, “In biology, as several other people have shown, and I totally agree with them, there are no natural laws in biology corresponding to the natural laws of the physical sciences.”

    The Evolution of Ernst: Interview with Ernst Mayr – 2004 (page 2 of 14)
    Excerpt: biology (Darwinian Evolution) differs from the physical sciences in that in the physical sciences, all theories, I don’t know exceptions so I think it’s probably a safe statement, all theories are based somehow or other on natural laws. In biology, as several other people have shown, and I totally agree with them, there are no natural laws in biology corresponding to the natural laws of the physical sciences.
    ,,, And so that’s what I do in this book. I show that the theoretical basis, you might call it, or I prefer to call it the philosophy of biology, has a totally different basis than the theories of physics.
    https://www.scientificamerican.com/media/pdf/0004D8E1-178C-10EB-978C83414B7F012C.pdf

    In the following article, Roger Highfield makes much the same observation as Ernst Mayr and states, ,,, Whatever the case, those universal truths—’laws’—that physicists and chemists all rely upon appear relatively absent from biology.

    WHAT SCIENTIFIC IDEA IS READY FOR RETIREMENT? Evolution is True – Roger Highfield – January 2014
    Excerpt: If evolutionary biologists are really Seekers of the Truth, they need to focus more on finding the mathematical regularities of biology, following in the giant footsteps of Sewall Wright, JBS Haldane, Ronald Fisher and so on.
    ,,, Whatever the case, those universal truths—’laws’—that physicists and chemists all rely upon appear relatively absent from biology.
    Little seems to have changed from a decade ago when the late and great John Maynard Smith wrote a chapter on evolutionary game theory for a book on the most powerful equations of science: his contribution did not include a single equation.
    http://www.edge.org/response-detail/25468

    Professor Murray Eden of MIT, in a paper entitled “Inadequacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution as a Scientific Theory” stated that “the randomness postulate is highly implausible and that an adequate scientific theory of evolution must await the discovery and elucidation of new natural laws—physical, physico-chemical, and biological.”

    “It is our contention that if ‘random’ is given a serious and crucial interpretation from a probabilistic point of view, the randomness postulate is highly implausible and that an adequate scientific theory of evolution must await the discovery and elucidation of new natural laws—physical, physico-chemical, and biological.”
    Murray Eden, “Inadequacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution as a Scientific Theory,” Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, editors Paul S. Moorhead and Martin M. Kaplan, June 1967, p. 109.
    https://people.eecs.berkeley.edu/~christos/evol/compevol_files/Wistar-Eden-1.pdf

  30. 30
    hazel says:

    I haven’t been discussing evolution. I’m saying that no matter what your metaphysics is, starting with the premise that a belief has a 50-50 chance of being true is stupid.

  31. 31
    bornagain77 says:

    For crying out loud, you can’t divorce Plantinga’s argument from the metaphysics since it is in fact the “Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism”. Naturalistic metaphysics is the main focus of the argument for crying out loud.

    I give up. You are hopeless, I’m out of here and I’m going back to banging my head on my desk. Goodnight.

    Bangs head on keyboard
    https://media0.giphy.com/media/26BRq84rhISRcFVUQ/giphy.gif?

  32. 32
    hazel says:

    But there is no reason to assume that “naturalism” would mean that beliefs had a 50-50 chance of being true. This is a quintessential strawman.

  33. 33
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N (attn H, BB et al): J B S Haldane, one of the leaders of the neo-darwinian synthesis:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (NB: DI Fellow, Nancy Pearcey brings this right up to date (HT: ENV) in a current book, Finding Truth.)]

    Reppert builds on this, showing why computation on a substrate is categorically different from rational contemplation:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A [–> notice, state of a wetware, electrochemically operated computational substrate], which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief [–> concious, perceptual state or disposition] that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [But] if naturalism [–> note, he here premises NATURALISM] is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions

    Absent genuine rational, responsible contemplative freedom governed by duties to truth, to right reason, to prudence, to fairness/justice etc, mindedness collapses into grand delusion, including the chains of reason above. So, we may freely make a Hoylean we are here argument: reality can only be such as is compatible with creatures like us.

    That means there is a facet to reality that allows a genuinely freely rational and responsible life. So, we need an adequate world root capable of bridging computation and contemplation as well as is and ought.

    What best fits that bill: ________ and why: ___________ ???

    Candidate to beat: the God of ethical theism: inherently good, utterly wise, creator, necessary of being, maximally great being.
    KF

  34. 34
    daveS says:

    hazel, KF,

    I also don’t find Plantinga’s argument, as presented in that interview, to be at all convincing. On the other hand, I don’t believe Plantinga is stupid, so perhaps if his argument were spelled out in greater detail, I could understand its force.

    Anyway, as a step toward understanding the issues, here’s a scenario. Suppose we send a rover to Mars to collect information (e.g., Opportunity). This one is fully autonomous and simply drives around taking measurements and storing the results in its database, without any guidance from Earthlings.

    Let’s suppose the rover performs measurements of some geological features, for example the diameters of craters. It finds a 95% confidence interval for one such diameter is [99, 101] meters (based on calibrations done on Earth) and transmits this message back to Earth.

    Clearly more than 50% of the rover’s measurements/confidence intervals should include the true value, right? But the rover is merely a material object. Why doesn’t Plantinga’s argument apply to it?

  35. 35
    bornagain77 says:

    “if his argument were spelled out in greater detail, I could understand its force.”

    see post 21

  36. 36
    Brother Brian says:

    BA77

    Brother Brian, you, having now displaced Seversky as the resident troll, are currently the reigning king of ‘stupid arguments’ on UD.

    Why? Are you abdicating the throne? 🙂

  37. 37
    hazel says:

    As usual, it seems, important distinctions are being missed by ba and kf. I am not arguing for materialism. I understand, and accept, that ba, kf, and Plantinga don’t think a universe of purely material processes could have produced life, human beings, or consciously held beliefs of any kind.

    What I am arguing is that Plantinga’s argument that if purely material beings existed, their beliefs would have a 50-50% chance of being true, is not supported by him in any way. He just asserts it without any supporting argument.

    Here’s a longer quote, with bolding by me:

    Now suppose we think about some creatures on an alien planet that are a lot like us. Let’s suppose for them that naturalism holds, that evolution holds, and that these creatures are material objects. So what is it that causes their behaviour? What causes their behaviour will be neurology, the states of which their neurons are firing sending a signal down to a muscle causing it to contract. And their beliefs and the content of these beliefs are also caused by neurology. Now given that evolution is true these creatures have come into being by virtue of natural selection we can take it for granted that their behaviour is adaptive, it enhances their fitness which leads to survival and reproduction. If that is true the same thing will go for what causes their behaviour, namely their neurology which also promotes survival and reproduction. The neurology that causes their behaviour also causes their beliefs, but now the question is “suppose their behaviour is in fact adaptive what about the truths of these beliefs?” Well, I think that you can see that it doesn’t matter about the truths of these beliefs. If their neurology causes the right behaviour what they believe makes no difference. The belief, one might say, floats along like an extra that’s caused by the neurology. But the beliefs don’t have to be true for the neurology to be adaptive. If the neurology causes false beliefs but causes the right actions it makes no difference whatsoever. So, if you take a given belief on the part of one of these creatures and ask “What is the probability given that naturalism and evolution and materialism that the belief is true?” It’s got to be fairly close to 50/50, it is likely to be true as false, or it likely to be false as true. If that is the case then the probability that their cognitive faculties are reliable, which produces a substantial proportion of true beliefs that reliability requires, the probability that their faculties will be reliable will be very low”

    Why does it “got to be fairly close to 50/50”?

    If such creatures had managed to survive through materialist processes, as Plantinga is assuming here, then it would seem to me almost certain that behaviors and beliefs that were adaptive would have to have a fairly close correspondence to reality. Those creatures that believed that falling off a cliff wouldn’t hurt you wouldn’t have survived, and those that believed otherwise would have survived, so the belief that falling off a cliff would hurt you, which is a true fact, would have been established.

    Likewise for most beliefs about reality: beliefs about the physical world would be in close correspondence about the real world. This would be the case even for materialistic “robots” as long as there was a mechanism in place, which Plantaga is assuming there is in this scenario, for sorting out behaviors and beliefs that are adaptive from those that aren’t.

    So I see no justification for the assertion that the probability of a belief being true has “got to be fairly close to 50/50”

    That is the point I’m making.

  38. 38
    kairosfocus says:

    H, Plantinga’s argument is not 50-50, but low or inscrutable, and there is a 58 pp paper that lays it out in details. Unlike your suggestion, he is not simply “assuming.” However, I am presenting a more basic issue that is associated, and as names like Haldane indicate, is longstanding, as in about 90 years old. I take it that by naturalism, we are speaking of evolutionary materialistic scientism, which is inter alia physicalist, i.e. physical facts exhaust all facts. This implies that one would have to account for rational contemplation, responsible decision, moral government etc on material substrates (including that some such are computational and can be programmed somehow). The problem is, as Haldane and Reppert et al indicate, this runs into extreme difficulties as outlined. Difficulties that are reflexive and would undermind the credibility of the minds we use to assess evidence and reason to draw naturalism itself as a conclusion. In short, self-referential incoherence. KF

    PS: Not is it just those who have questions who see this, note Rosenberg:

    Alex Rosenberg as he begins Ch 9 of his The Atheist’s Guide to Reality:

    >> FOR SOLID EVOLUTIONARY REASONS, WE’VE BEEN tricked into looking at life from the inside. Without scientism, we look at life from the inside, from the first-person POV (OMG, you don’t know what a POV is?—a “point of view”). The first person is the subject, the audience, the viewer of subjective experience, the self in the mind.

    Scientism shows that the first-person POV is an illusion. [–> grand delusion is let loose in utter self referential incoherence] Even after scientism convinces us, we’ll continue to stick with the first person. But at least we’ll know that it’s another illusion of introspection and we’ll stop taking it seriously. We’ll give up all the answers to the persistent questions about free will, the self, the soul, and the meaning of life that the illusion generates [–> bye bye to responsible, rational freedom on these presuppositions].

    The physical facts fix all the facts. [–> asserts materialism, leading to . . . ] The mind is the brain. It has to be physical and it can’t be anything else, since thinking, feeling, and perceiving are physical process—in particular, input/output processes—going on in the brain. We [–> at this point, what “we,” apart from “we delusions”?] can be sure of a great deal about how the brain works because the physical facts fix all the facts about the brain. The fact that the mind is the brain guarantees that there is no free will. It rules out any purposes or designs organizing our actions or our lives [–> thus rational thought and responsible freedom]. It excludes the very possibility of enduring persons, selves, or souls that exist after death or for that matter while we live.>>

  39. 39
    daveS says:

    hazel,

    If such creatures had managed to survive through materialist processes, as Plantinga is assuming here, then it would seem to me almost certain that behaviors and beliefs that were adaptive would have to have a fairly close correspondence to reality. Those creatures that believed that falling off a cliff wouldn’t hurt you wouldn’t have survived, and those that believed otherwise would have survived, so the belief that falling off a cliff would hurt you, which is a true fact, would have been established.

    Nicely put. For at least some beliefs, the probability/likelihood of them being true must be far higher than 50%.

  40. 40
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: One link. The 58 pp paper. KF

  41. 41
    kairosfocus says:

    H, actually, no — it is you who are injecting an unjustified assumption; in effect, if it works well enough it must be nearly right. That which is adaptive and that which is accurate (especially as regards complex abstracta involved in forming perceptual and conceptual beliefs about the world) are quite different things, which is precisely what Plantinga took time to draw out. This is also why it is important to also have on the table the challenge of computational substrates vs rational contemplation, and we have not even got to the issue of getting to even such substrates i/l/o the functionally specific complex organisation and associated information required. The only empirically known source of such FSCO/I is design, which is being ruled out a priori by naturalism. You have three parallel problems to address, not just one. KF

  42. 42
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Here is my own 101 level thought on the matter, stretching back decades:

    First, some materialists actually suggest that mind is more or less a delusion, which is instantly self-referentially absurd. For instance, Sir Francis Crick is on record, in his 1994 The Astonishing Hypothesis:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    Philip Johnson has replied that Sir Francis should have therefore been willing to preface his works thusly: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” Johnson then acidly commented: “[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” [Reason in the Balance, 1995.]

    In short, it is at least arguable that self-referential absurdity is the dagger pointing to the heart of evolutionary materialistic models of mind and its origin. For, there is a very good reason we are cautioned about how easily self-referential statements can become self-refuting, like a snake attacking and swallowing itself tail-first. Any human scheme of thought that undermines responsible [thus, morally governed] rational freedom undermines itself fatally. We thus see inadvertent, inherent self-falsification of evolutionary materialism. But, “inadvertent” counts: it can be hard to recognise and acknowledge the logically fatal nature of the result. Of course, that subjective challenge does not change the objective result: self-referential incoherence and irretrievable self-falsification. (An audio clip, here, by William Lane Craig that summarises Plantinga’s argument on this in a nutshell, is useful as a quick reference.)

    This issue can be discussed at a much higher level, but it can also be drawn out a bit in a fairly simple way for blog level discussion:

    a: Evolutionary materialism argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature; from hydrogen to humans by undirected chance and necessity.

    b: Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances.

    (This is physicalism. This view covers both the forms where (a) the mind and the brain are seen as one and the same thing, and those where (b) somehow mind emerges from and/or “supervenes” on brain, perhaps as a result of sophisticated and complex software looping. The key point, though is as already noted: physical causal closure — the phenomena that play out across time, without residue, are in principle deducible or at least explainable up to various random statistical distributions and/or mechanical laws, from prior physical states. Such physical causal closure, clearly, implicitly discounts or even dismisses the causal effect of concept formation and reasoning then responsibly deciding, in favour of specifically physical interactions in the brain-body control loop; indeed, some mock the idea of — in their view — an “obviously” imaginary “ghost” in the meat-machine. [There is also some evidence from simulation exercises, that accuracy of even sensory perceptions may lose out to utilitarian but inaccurate ones in an evolutionary competition. “It works” does not warrant the inference to “it is true.”] )

    c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this meat-machine picture. So, we rapidly arrive at Crick’s claim in his The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as “thoughts,” “reasoning” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains that (as the Smith Model illustrates) serve as cybernetic controllers for our bodies.

    d: These underlying driving forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [“nature”] and psycho-social conditioning [“nurture”], within the framework of human culture [i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism]. And, remember, the focal issue to such minds — notice, this is a conceptual analysis made and believed by the materialists! — is the physical causal chains in a control loop, not the internalised “mouth-noises” that may somehow sit on them and come along for the ride.

    (Save, insofar as such “mouth noises” somehow associate with or become embedded as physically instantiated signals or maybe codes in such a loop. [How signals, languages and codes originate and function in systems in our observation of such origin — i.e by design — tends to be pushed to the back-burner and conveniently forgotten. So does the point that a signal or code takes its significance precisely from being an intelligently focused on, observed or chosen and significant alternative from a range of possibilities that then can guide decisive action.])

    e: For instance, Marxists commonly derided opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismissed qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? Should we not ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is little more than yet another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And — as we saw above — would the writings of a Crick be any more than the firing of neurons in networks in his own brain?

    f: For further instance, we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion. Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely cognitive, conceptual error, but delusion. Borderline lunacy, in short. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be a major illustration of the unreliability of our conceptual reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

    g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.

    h: That is, on its own premises [and following Dawkins in A Devil’s Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence. Reppert brings the underlying point sharply home, in commenting on the “internalised mouth-noise signals riding on the physical cause-effect chain in a cybernetic loop” view:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A [–> notice, state of a wetware, electrochemically operated computational substrate], which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief [–> concious, perceptual state or disposition] that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    i: The famous geneticist and evolutionary biologist (as well as Socialist) J. B. S. Haldane made much the same point in a famous 1932 remark:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (NB: DI Fellow, Nancy Pearcey brings this right up to date (HT: ENV) in a current book, Finding Truth.)]

    j: Therefore, though materialists will often try to pointedly ignore or angrily brush aside the issue, we may freely argue: if such evolutionary materialism is true, then (i) our consciousness, (ii) the “thoughts” we have, (iii) the conceptualised beliefs we hold, (iv) the reasonings we attempt based on such and (v) the “conclusions” and “choices” (a.k.a. “decisions”) we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to “mere” ill-defined abstractions such as: purpose or truth, or even logical validity.

    (NB: The conclusions of such “arguments” may still happen to be true, by astonishingly lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” or “warranted” them. It seems that rationality itself has thus been undermined fatally on evolutionary materialistic premises. Including that of Crick et al. Through, self-reference leading to incoherence and utter inability to provide a cogent explanation of our commonplace, first-person experience of reasoning and rational warrant for beliefs, conclusions and chosen paths of action. Reduction to absurdity and explanatory failure in short.)

    k: And, if materialists then object: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must immediately note that — as the fate of Newtonian Dynamics between 1880 and 1930 shows — empirical support is not equivalent to establishing the truth of a scientific theory. For, at any time, one newly discovered countering fact can in principle overturn the hitherto most reliable of theories. (And as well, we must not lose sight of this: in science, one is relying on the legitimacy of the reasoning process to make the case that scientific evidence provides reasonable albeit provisional warrant for one’s beliefs etc. Scientific reasoning is not independent of reasoning.)

    l: Worse, in the case of origins science theories, we simply were not there to directly observe the facts of the remote past, so origins sciences are even more strongly controlled by assumptions and inferences than are operational scientific theories. So, we contrast the way that direct observations of falling apples and orbiting planets allow us to test our theories of gravity.

    m: Moreover, as Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin reminds us all in his infamous January 29, 1997 New York Review of Books article, “Billions and billions of demons,” it is now notorious that:

    . . . It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel [[materialistic scientists] to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [And if you have been led to imagine that the immediately following words justify the above, kindly cf. the more complete clip and notes here.]

    n: Such a priori assumptions of materialism are patently question-begging, mind-closing and fallacious.

    o: More important, to demonstrate that empirical tests provide empirical support to the materialists’ theories would require the use of the very process of reasoning and inference which they have discredited.

    p: Thus, evolutionary materialism arguably reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, as we have seen: immediately, that must include “Materialism.”

    q: In the end, it is thus quite hard to escape the conclusion that materialism is based on self-defeating, question-begging logic.

    r: So, while materialists — just like the rest of us — in practice routinely rely on the credibility of reasoning and despite all the confidence they may project, they at best struggle to warrant such a tacitly accepted credibility of mind and of concepts and reasoned out conclusions relative to the core claims of their worldview. (And, sadly: too often, they tend to pointedly ignore or rhetorically brush aside the issue.)

    KF

  43. 43
    AaronS1978 says:

    Alex Rosenberg is a tenacious atheist. I’ve read a lot of his stuff and he goes to great lengths and I mean great lengths to prove naturalism and Scientism

    Edward Fessor and him duke it out quite a bit

    Alex Rosenberg, he finds that all forms of naturalism lead to this ultimate conclusion

    To him our decisions and beliefs are not 50-50 nor the even kind of one way or another, all beliefs are illusions. The only way to escape this is through science and even then that’s not 100%

    Plantinga, I don’t think is assuming, he starting off with the fact that every single belief, has to have a physical origin and or genetic origin if it didn’t exist in the first place. That is what the 50% comes from I believe. Now without having to get into a large discussion about it, yes certain beliefs might survive over others but again survival does not indicate truth.

    Something only needs to see the color red to see that it’s dangerous not it’s details and his point is anything that’s geared for fitness is going to survive better than things that are geared to truth.

    Alex Rosenberg goes into great deal about this as well and scientism is the answer to that problem

  44. 44
    daveS says:

    nm

  45. 45
    hazel says:

    kf writes, “Plantinga’s argument is not 50-50.”

    Yet the quotes that ba provides say clearly, “What is the probability given that naturalism and evolution and materialism that the belief is true?” It’s got to be fairly close to 50/50”

    I’m not going to go read a 58 page paper, but given the quote above, maybe you can explain what you mean when you write “Plantinga’s argument is not 50-50” when I clearly show that his argument is that it’s 50-50.

    And again, kf, I am not defending materialism. I am critiquing Plantinga’s argument as presented in the quote in 37, which begins by assuming a hypothetical world where materialism is true.

  46. 46
    Brother Brian says:

    AaranS1978

    Plantinga, I don’t think is assuming, he starting off with the fact that every single belief, has to have a physical origin and or genetic origin if it didn’t exist in the first place.

    I have never read Plantinga so I have no desire to get into a discussion about what he has said. However, I think that what you say here makes sense.

    Now without having to get into a large discussion about it, yes certain beliefs might survive over others but again survival does not indicate truth.

    I would agree with this. For example, the social cohesion and cooperation that comes hand-in-hand with a common shared religion almost certainly imparts a survival advantage. However, that doesn’t mean that the religion itself is true, or based on truth.

  47. 47
    bornagain77 says:

    A few more quotes that predate Plantinga’s argument by decades:

    Both Einstein and Wigner are on record as to regarding the “comprehensibility of the world as a miracle”

    On the Rational Order of the World: a Letter to Maurice Solovine – Albert Einstein – March 30, 1952
    Excerpt: “You find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world (to the extent that we are authorized to speak of such a comprehensibility) as a miracle or as an eternal mystery. Well, a priori, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way .. the kind of order created by Newton’s theory of gravitation, for example, is wholly different. Even if a man proposes the axioms of the theory, the success of such a project presupposes a high degree of ordering of the objective world, and this could not be expected a priori. That is the ‘miracle’ which is constantly reinforced as our knowledge expands.
    There lies the weakness of positivists and professional atheists who are elated because they feel that they have not only successfully rid the world of gods but “bared the miracles.”
    -Albert Einstein – Letter to Solovine

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: ,,certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.,,,
    It is difficult to avoid the impression that a miracle confronts us here, quite comparable in its striking nature to the miracle that the human mind can string a thousand arguments together without getting itself into contradictions, or to the two miracles of the existence of laws of nature and of the human mind’s capacity to divine them.,,,
    The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve. We should be grateful for it and hope that it will remain valid in future research and that it will extend, for better or for worse, to our pleasure, even though perhaps also to our bafflement, to wide branches of learning.
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

    To be clear:

    mir·a·cle
    /?mir?k(?)l/
    noun
    a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.

    Thus the argument is not even completely original to Plantinga. He just put some meat on the bones of what several prominent people had already taken notice of several decades before Plantinga came along. kf has already mentioned Haldane, Then there is also CS Lewis’s ‘the argument from reason’ as well.

    Moreover, to repeat, Donald Hoffman has now validated the main gist of Plantinga’s argument with numerous computer simulations:

    Donald Hoffman: Do we see reality as it is? – Video – 9:59 minute mark
    Quote: “fitness does depend on reality as it is, yes.,,, Fitness is not the same thing as reality as it is, and it is fitness, and not reality as it is, that figures centrally in the equations of evolution. So, in my lab, we have run hundreds of thousands of evolutionary game simulations with lots of different randomly chosen worlds and organisms that compete for resources in those worlds. Some of the organisms see all of the reality. Others see just part of the reality. And some see none of the reality. Only fitness. Who wins? Well I hate to break it to you but perception of reality goes extinct. In almost every simulation, organisms that see none of reality, but are just tuned to fitness, drive to extinction that perceive reality as it is. So the bottom line is, evolution does not favor veridical, or accurate perceptions. Those (accurate) perceptions of reality go extinct. Now this is a bit stunning. How can it be that not seeing the world accurately gives us a survival advantage?”
    https://youtu.be/oYp5XuGYqqY?t=601

    The Evolutionary Argument Against Reality – April 2016
    The cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman uses evolutionary game theory to show that our perceptions of an independent reality must be illusions.
    Excerpt: “The classic argument is that those of our ancestors who saw more accurately had a competitive advantage over those who saw less accurately and thus were more likely to pass on their genes that coded for those more accurate perceptions, so after thousands of generations we can be quite confident that we’re the offspring of those who saw accurately, and so we see accurately. That sounds very plausible. But I think it is utterly false. It misunderstands the fundamental fact about evolution, which is that it’s about fitness functions — mathematical functions that describe how well a given strategy achieves the goals of survival and reproduction. The mathematical physicist Chetan Prakash proved a theorem that I devised that says: According to evolution by natural selection, an organism that sees reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that sees none of reality but is just tuned to fitness. Never.”
    https://www.quantamagazine.org/20160421-the-evolutionary-argument-against-reality/

    The Case Against Reality – May 13, 2016
    Excerpt: Hoffman seems to come to a conclusion similar to the one Alvin Plantinga argues in ch. 10 of Where the Conflict Really Lies: we should not expect — in the absence of further argument — that creatures formed by a naturalistic evolutionary process would have veridical perceptions.,,,
    First, even if Hoffman’s argument were restricted to visual perception, and not to our cognitive faculties more generally (e.g., memory, introspection, a priori rational insight, testimonial belief, inferential reasoning, etc.), the conclusion that our visual perceptions would be wholly unreliable given natural selection would be sufficient for Plantinga’s conclusion of self-defeat. After all, reliance upon the veridicality of our visual perceptions was and always will be crucial for any scientific argument for the truth of evolution. So if these perceptions cannot be trusted, we have little reason to think evolutionary theory is true.
    Second, it’s not clear that Hoffman’s application of evolutionary game theory is only specially applicable to visual perception, rather than being relevant for our cognitive faculties generally. If “we find that veridical perceptions can be driven to extinction by non-veridical strategies that are tuned to utility rather than objective reality” (2010, p. 504, my emphasis), then why wouldn’t veridical cognitive faculties (more generally) be driven to extinction by non-veridical strategies that are tuned to utility rather than objective reality? After all, evolutionary theory purports to be the true account of the formation of all of our cognitive faculties, not just our faculty of visual perception. If evolutionary game theory proves that “true perception generally goes extinct” when “animals that perceive the truth compete with others that sacrifice truth for speed and energy-efficiency” (2008), why wouldn’t there be a similar sacrifice with respect to other cognitive faculties? In fact, Hoffman regards the following theorem as now proven: “According to evolution by natural selection, an organism that sees reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that sees none of reality but is just tuned to fitness” (Atlantic interview). But then wouldn’t it also be the case that an organism that cognizes reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that cognizes none of reality but is just tuned to fitness? On the evolutionary story, every cognitive faculty we have was produced by a process that was tuned to fitness (rather than tuned to some other value, such as truth).
    http://www.gregwelty.com/2016/.....t-reality/

    Thus the resident atheists on UD can argue till they are blue in the face, but the argument is a long standing argument made by many prominent people before Plantinga, and on top of all that, the argument is now validated by numerous computer simulations.

    Thus, the claim from Darwinists that “our ancestors who saw more accurately had a competitive advantage over those who saw less accurately” is simply not a reasonable statement that they can make in good faith anymore since the claim has now been demonstrated to be a false claim.

  48. 48
    hazel says:

    Yes, but can you defend the 50-50 remark?

  49. 49
    bornagain77 says:

    Who cares? I hold the initial set of beliefs that might be true in a naturalistic scenario (since naturalism is false) to be 0%. Plantinga, after some long winded reasoning that kf alluded to, gives naturalists a generous 50/50 chance. Hoffman splits ‘true perception’ into varying degrees, (i,e, 1/3’s or perhaps even more), and let’s the varying degrees of true perception fight it out for survival. i.e. Hoffman: “Some of the organisms see all of the reality. Others see just part of the reality. And some see none of the reality. Only fitness.”

    And again, true perception always goes extinct in Hoffman’s simulations.

    You are not arguing with me. You are arguing with the mathematics of population genetics and with very many computer simulations.

    You want to disprove the argument? Fine, prove mathematically that Hoffman was wrong, then go program a computer with your corrected mathematics, run the simulations, and then go publish in peer review that you have overturned Hoffman’s proof. Good luck with all that.

    Until then you got nothing.

  50. 50
    hazel says:

    ba writes, “Who cares.”

    Well if you don’t care whether Plantinga has a rationale for his 50-50 remark, that is fine.

    But please be clear that he is NOT assigning a probability as to whether materialism is true. He is saying that assuming materialism is true, on average every belief has a 50-50 chance of being true. I see that you have no explanation of justification for that remark.

    And this has nothing to do with Hoffman, who I am not discussing.

    But you don’t care, so we won’t go any further.

  51. 51
    bornagain77 says:

    Whatever, you may have a point or not. I don’t care because your point doesn’t matter. The main point of Plantinga’s argument that Naturalism cannot produce reliable cognitive faculties is validated by Hoffman. Period! You can split hairs til the cows come home for all I care. Whatever trips your pointless trigger. Perhaps next you can get into navel gazing.

  52. 52
    hazel says:

    I see: responding to the details of something you quoted, twice, is “splitting hairs”. Pardon me for paying attention what people actually say.

    Plantinga, I know, believes that Naturalism cannot produce reliable cognitive faculties, and he may have some good arguments, but the arguments that I quoted in 5 and 37 from him are NOT good arguments.

    I’ll take your dismissal of my thoughts, and the lack of any direct response, as an implicit concession of that point, unless you can come up with something new and relevant.

  53. 53
    bornagain77 says:

    Translation, “navel gazing is good”

    Plantinga’s argument is validated period!

    If you want to pick a real beef with the argument that has some merit, start with the fact that they conceded the hard problem of consciousness to naturalists before proving the argument valid.

    I NEVER would have conceded that point as a starting position to naturalists!

  54. 54
    kairosfocus says:

    H, the main argument at core is an exercise in Bayesian probability, starting from some remarks by Churchland. For instance on the 5th page we see:

    We can put Churchland’s claim as P(R/N&E) is low,where ‘R’ is the proposition that
    our cognitive faculties are reliable, ‘N’ the proposition that naturalism is true, and ‘E’ the
    proposition that we have evolved according to the suggestions of contemporary evolutionary
    theory.
    11
    I believe this thought–the thought that P(R/N&E) is low–is also what worries Darwin in
    the above quotation: I shall therefore call it ‘Darwin’s Doubt’.
    Are Darwin and Churchland right? Well, they are certainly right in thinking that natural
    selection is directly interested only in behavior, not belief, and that it is interested in belief, if at
    all, only indirectly, by virtue of the relation between behavior and belief. If adaptive behavior
    guarantees or makes probable reliable faculties, then P(R/N&E) will be rather high: we (or rather
    our ancestors) engaged in at least reasonably adaptive behavior, so it must be that our cognitive
    faculties are at least reasonably reliable, in which case it is likely that most of our beliefs are true.
    On the other hand, if our having reliable faculties isn’t guaranteed by or even particularly
    probable with respect to adaptive behavior, then presumably P(R/N&E) will be rather low. If, for
    example, behavior isn’t caused or governed by belief, the latter would be, so to speak, invisible to
    natural selection; in that case it would be unlikely that most of our beliefs are true, and unlikely
    that our cognitive faculties are for the most part reliable. So the question of the value of
    P(R/N&E) really turns on the relationship between belief and behavior.

    Picking up from a remark by Darwin, he pivots to Churchland on the 4th page:

    ?
    8
    The same thought
    is put more explicitly by Patricia Churchland. She insists that the most important thing about the
    human brain is that it has evolved; this means, she says, that its principal function is to enable the
    organism to move appropriately: Boiled down to essentials, a nervous system enables the
    organism to succeed in . . . feeding, fleeing, fighting and reproducing. The principle
    chore of nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism
    may survive. . . . . Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a
    fancier style of representing is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism’s way of life
    and enhances the organism’s chances of survival [Churchland’s emphasis]. Truth, whatever that
    is, definitely takes the hindmost
    .

    What Churchland means, I think, is that evolution is interested (so to speak) only in
    adaptive behavior, not in true belief. Natural selection doesn’t care what you believe; it is
    interested only in how you behave. It selects for certain kinds of behavior, those that enhance
    fitness, which is a measure of the chances that one’s genes are widely represented in the next and
    subsequent generations. It doesn’t select for belief, except insofar as the latter is appropriately
    related to behavior. But then the fact that we have evolved guarantees at most that we behave in
    certain ways–ways that contribute to our (or our ancestors’) surviving and reproducing in the
    environment in which we have developed. Churchland’s claim, I think, is best understood as the
    suggestion that the objective probability that our cognitive faculties are reliable, given
    naturalism and given that we have been cobbled together by the processes to which
    contemporary evolutionary theory calls our attention, is low.

    By pp. 6 – 7, we see:

    To try to guard against interspecific
    chauvinism, I suggested that we think, not about ourselves and our behavior, but about a
    population of creatures a lot like us on a planet a lot like earth (Darwin suggested we think about
    monkeys in this connection). These creatures are rational: that is, they form beliefs, reason,
    change beliefs, and the like. We imagine furthermore that they and their cognitive systems have
    evolved by way of the mechanisms to which contemporary evolutionary theory direct our
    attention, unguided by the hand of God or anyone else. Now what is P(R/N&E), specified, not to
    us, but to them? To answer, we must think about the relationship between their beliefs and their
    behavior? There are four mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive possibilities. (1) One
    possibility is epiphenomenalism: their behavior is not caused by their beliefs. On this |
    possibility, their movement and behavior would be caused by something or other–perhaps neural
    impulses–which would be caused by other organic conditions including sensory stimulation: but
    belief would not have a place in this causal chain leading to behavior. This view of the relation
    between behavior and belief (and other mental phenomena such as feeling, sensation, and desire)
    is currently rather popular, especially among those strongly influenced by biological science.
    Time (December, 1992) reports that J. M. Smith, a well-known biologist, wrote “that he had
    never understood why organisms have feelings. After all, orthodox biologists believe that
    behavior, however complex, is governed entirely by biochemistry and that the attendant
    sensations–fear, pain, wonder, love–are just shadows cast by that biochemistry, not themselves
    vital to the organism’s behavior . . . .” He could have added that (according to biological
    orthodoxy) the same goes for beliefs–at least if beliefs are not themselves just biochemical
    phenomena. If this way of thinking is right with respect to our hypothetical creatures, their
    beliefs would be invisible to evolution; and then the fact that their belief-forming mechanisms
    arose during their evolutionary history would confer little or no probability on the idea that their
    beliefs are mostly true, or mostly nearly true. Indeed, the probability of those beliefs’ being for
    the most part true would have to be rated fairly low. On N&E and this first possibility,
    therefore, the probability of R will be rather low.(2) A second possibility is semantic
    epiphenomenalism: it could be that their beliefs do indeed have causal efficacy with respect to
    behavior, but not by virtue of their content. Put in currently fashionable jargon, this would be the
    suggestion that beliefs are indeed causally efficacious, but by virtue of their syntax, not by virtue
    of their semantics. On a naturalist or anyway a materialist way of thinking, a belief could
    perhaps be something like a long-term pattern of neural activity, a long-term neuronal event.
    This event will have properties of at least two different kinds. On the one hand, there are its
    electrochemical properties: the number of neurons involved in the belief, the connections
    between them, their firing thresholds, the rate and strength at which they fire, the way in which |
    these change over time and in response to other neural activity, and so on. Call these syntactical
    properties of the belief. On the other hand, however, if the belief is really a belief, it will be the
    belief that p for some proposition p. Perhaps it is the belief that there once was a brewery where
    the Metropolitan Opera House now stands. This proposition, we might say, is the content of the
    belief in question. So in addition to its syntactical properties, a belief will also have semantical
    14
    properties–for example, the property of being the belief that there once was a brewery where
    the Metropolitan Opera House now stands. (Other semantical properties: being true or false,
    entailing that there has been at least one brewery, being consistent with the proposition that all
    men are mortal and so on.) And the second possibility is that belief is indeed causally
    efficacious with respect to behavior, but by virtue of the syntactic properties of a belief, not its
    semantic properties. If the first possibility is widely popular among those influenced by
    biological science, this possibility is widely popular among contemporary philosophers of mind;
    indeed, Robert Cummins goes so faras to call it the “received view.”
    15
    On this view, as on the
    last, P(R/N&E) (specified to those creatures) will be low. The reason is that truth or falsehood,
    of course, are among the semantic properties of a belief, not its syntactic properties. But if the
    former aren’t involved in the causal chain leading to belief, then once more beliefs–or rather,
    their semantic properties, including truth and falsehood–will be invisible to natural selection.|
    But then it will be unlikely that their beliefs are mostly true and hence unlikely that their
    cognitive faculties are reliable. The probability of R on N&E together with this possibility, (as
    with the last), therefore, will be relatively low.
    (3) It could be that beliefs are causally efficacious–‘semantically’ as well as
    ‘syntactically’–with respect to behavior, but maladaptive: from the point of view of fitness these
    creatures would be better off without them. The probability of R on N&E together with this
    possibility, as with the last two, would also seem to be relatively low.
    (4) Finally, it could be that the beliefs of our hypothetical creatures are indeed both
    causally connected with their behavior and also adaptive. (I suppose this is the common sense
    view of the connection between behavior and belief in our own case.) What is the probability
    (on this assumption together with N&E) that their cognitive faculties are reliable; and what is the
    probability that a belief produced by those faculties will be true? I argued that this probability
    isn’t nearly as high as one is initially inclined to think. The reason is that if behavior is caused by
    belief, it is also caused by desire (and other factors–suspicion, doubt, approval and disapproval,
    fear–that we can here ignore). For any given adaptive action, there will be many belief-desire
    combinations that could produce that action; and very many of those belief-desire combinations
    will be such that the belief involved is false.

    The parable of Paul the hominid and the Tiger follows. Then, p. 11:

    P(R/N&E) will be the weighted average of
    P(R/N&E&P i ) for each of the four possibilities P i –weighted by the probabilities, on N&E, of
    those possibilities. The probability calculus gives us a formula here:
    P(R/N&E) = (P(R/N&E&P 1 ) x P(P 1 /N&E)) + (P(R/N&E&P 2 ) x P(P 2 /N&E)) +
    (P(R/N&E&P 3 ) x P(P 3 /N&E)) + (P(R/N&E&P 4 ) x P(P 4 /N&E)).
    Of course the very idea of a calculation (suggesting, as it does, the assignment of specific real
    numbers to these various probabilities) is laughable: the best we can do are vague estimates. But
    that is all we need for the argument. For consider the left-hand multiplicand in each of the four
    terms on the right-hand side of the equation. In the first three, the sensible estimate would put
    the value low, considerably less that 1/2; in the 4th, it isn’t very clear what the value would be,
    but it couldn’t be much more than 1/2. But then (since the probabilities of P1 and of P2 (the two
    forms of epiphenomenalism) would be fairly high, given naturalism, and since the right hand
    multiplicands in the four terms cannot sum to more than 1) that means that the value of
    P(R/N&E) will be less than 1/2; and that is enough for the argument.
    But the argument for a low estimate of P(R/N&E) is by no means irresistible; our
    estimates of the various probabilities involved in estimating P(R/N&E) with respect to that
    hypothetical population were (naturally enough) both imprecise and poorly grounded. You
    might reasonably hold, therefore, that the right course here is simple agnosticism: one just
    doesn’t know what that probability is. You doubt that it is very high; but you aren’t prepared to
    say that it is low: you have no definite opinion at all as to what that probability might be. Then
    this probability is inscrutable for you. This too seems a sensible attitude to take. The sensible
    thing to think, then, is that P(R/N&E) is either low or inscrutable
    .

    Then, p. 13:

    But (to return to our
    argument) can the defeater the naturalist has for R be in turn defeated? I argued that it can’t
    (WPF 233-234). It could be defeated only by something–an argument, for example, that
    involves some other belief (perhaps as premise). But any such belief will be subject to the very
    same defeater as R is. So this defeater can’t be defeated.
    19
    But if I have an undefeated defeater for R, then by the same token I have an undefeated
    defeater for any other belief B my cognitive faculties produce, a reason to be doubtful of that
    belief, a reason to withhold it. For any such belief will be produced by cognitive faculties that I
    cannot rationally believe to be reliable. But then clearly the same will be true for any proposition
    they produce: the fact that I can’t rationally believe that the faculties that produce that belief are
    reliable, gives me a reason for rejecting the belief. So the devotee of N&E has a defeater for just
    any belief he holds–a defeater, as I put it, that is ultimately undefeated.
    But this means, then, that
    he has an ultimately undefeated defeater for N&E itself. And that means that the conjunction of
    naturalism with evolution is self-defeating, such that one can’t rationally accept it.
    I went on to add that if naturalism is true, then so, in all probability, is evolution;
    evolution is the only game in town, for the naturalist, with respect to the question how all this
    variety of flora and fauna has arisen. If that is so, finally, then naturalism simpliciter is self-
    defeating and cannot rationally be accepted–at any rate by someone who is apprised of this
    argument and sees the connections between N&E and R.

    Of course, there is much more.

    However, the spectre of grand delusion is already abundantly clear, pointing to an infinite regress of Plato’s Cave worlds and absurdity.

    Mix in the sorts of exercises BA77 has pointed to and the assumption that evo almost certainly gets it right is pretty shaky.

    KF

  55. 55
    daveS says:

    the assumption that evo almost certainly gets it right is pretty shaky.

    It appears that the goalposts have been shifted slightly. 😛

  56. 56
    hazel says:

    kf, in all that is there anything that addresses the claim that given materialism, the probability that the average belief is true has “got to be fairly close to 50/50.”

    You copied and pasted a lot of stuff, but where does it address this specific claim?

  57. 57
    hazel says:

    re 55: it appears to be a game where the goalposts are always someplace else.

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    H, I posted the actual core argument in the reference paper. I think you should read it, including where he makes reference to the value 1/2 in light of Bayesian probability calcs. That is the core more or less of the substantial argument. I am busy with a budget and have neither time nor inclination for rhetorical dance about games as I have seen far too often. KF

    PS: Maybe you don’t know that Plantinga is a past President, American Phil Association (for one of its regions, that seems to be how they do it). He has made several major contributions and your obvious dismissiveness in that context says a lot more about you, than him. In addition, there are several highly relevant contributions that give teeth to the point. Even Darwin’s monkey brain remark used to shoddily brush aside doubts by selective hyperskepticism, speak. This is a longstanding and unanswered problem that is largely being ducked.

  59. 59
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I should note that when one has minimal info on a binary solution set, where uncertainty is maximal, so far as one knows, the odds of the two states are 50 – 50. This is probably where reference to this threshold comes from (I have seen it in other contexts and its close relative. Bernoulli indifference across a span of potential outcomes . . . leading onwards to informational metrics and to certain approaches in Stat Mech), and onward we see that indications of lower uncertainty shift ratings, as is used in expertise calibrated probability elicitation. This last has been used with our volcano and its potential hazards for many years now. It is also related to Gibbs formulations in stat mech and related info metrics, on sum over i of p_i log p_i. Just some context. KF

  60. 60
    Bob O'H says:

    Hazel @ 56 –
    I think kf is pointing to a Bayesian argument. One way of looking at it is if we know nothing then we should be indifferent to whether TRUE of FALSE is the more likely, so we should assign equal probabilities to them.

    The problem with this argument is that it assumes we don’t have any observations – once we have data, the probabilities will shift. And by the time we’re old enough to seriously reflect on the nature of reality, we have quite a bit of information, so we know (for example) that throwing ourselves off a 1000 ft cliff is not a good idea.

    So, basically Plantiga is implying that materialists are utterly ignorant. Think of it as the Jon Snow premise.

  61. 61
    bornagain77 says:

    “The problem with this argument is that it assumes we don’t have any observations”

    So you, as a materialist, assume that you have reliable cognitive faculties, i.e reliable “observations”, prior to seeing if Darwinian processes can produce them?

    “Plantiga is implying that materialists are utterly ignorant.”

    You are not helping alleviate the implication that you are ‘utterly ignorant’ by assuming your desired conclusion into the premise of the argument.

  62. 62
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H, please see the actual argument by Plantinga. I spoke to a supplementary point, and in so doing, I made exactly the point you just tried to use as a rebuttal, as a part of the framework. My interest is why is 1/2 often used as a threshold for such arguments. Going beyond, BA77 is right that the issue is how to account for the faculties we need to be observers, i.e. we are back to the Hoylean argument that the world must be such that we are possible as we are actual. Further to this the evidence is that computational substrates depend on prior designers [given the config space challenges to get them] and do not account for rational, contemplative, responsible intelligent inferential thought. Computation is not contemplation. Therefore, we need a world root adequate to account for morally governed rationally contemplative creatures, where even the rationality is governed morally through known duties to truth, right reason, prudence, justice etc. Indeed, to illustrate how central this is, law can be seen as highest reason on matters of justice; on pain of descent into nihilism of might makes ‘right.’ We are playing around with the foundations of just society. KF

  63. 63
    Bob O'H says:

    ba77 @ 61 –

    So you, as a materialist, assume that you have reliable cognitive faculties, i.e reliable “observations”, prior to seeing if Darwinian processes can produce them?

    At least partly reliable. Reliable enough to figure out, for example, that leaping off a 100 ft high cliff is a bad idea.

    kf @ 62 – Does Plantinga argue anything different from this? [EDITTED to remove a dumb comment, my apologies to anyone who was confused by it]

  64. 64
    bornagain77 says:

    Bob, materialism does NOT get a free pass in assuming into the premises the very thing that needs to be explained.

    The question is “CAN Darwinian processes produce reliable cognitive faculties?” The answer to that question is not, “We have fairly reliable cognitive faculties therefore Darwinian evolution must have produced them.”

    And when we look at it from that angle, without assuming Darwinian evolution is true, then the answer is found to be, by logic, math, and computer simulations, “No Darwinian evolution cannot produce reliable cognitive faculties”.

    Again, “You are not helping alleviate the implication that you are ‘utterly ignorant’ by assuming your desired conclusion of Darwinian evolution into the premise of the argument.”

  65. 65
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H: Why don’t you read Plantinga and respond to what he actually says as he interacts with first Darwin then Churchland? Particularly on convictions of any of a monkey brain and truth whatever that is taking hindermost after food, flight, fight, reproduce? Why does he identify four alternatives and how does he discuss quantification, to what result? What about the actual sims BA77 brings up? Then, I have raised the relevant FSCO/I concern on getting to a computational substrate by blind forces and to the gap between computation and rational contemplation. What of those? KF

  66. 66
    Bob O'H says:

    ba77 @ 64 – you’re obviously trying to discuss something different, which doesn’t have much to do with Plantinga’s claim about beliefs having independent 50% probabilities of being true. So if you don’t mind, I’ll leave you to it & not get derailed.

    kf – Plantinga has written a lot, and I was responding to one small point which is within my area of expertise (Bayesian probabilities). I’ve read the relevant part of the interview with Cutting, and he doesn’t give a reason for his 50%: he assumes it. So I don’t know what part of his work I would have to read to find out where he gets his 50% from. How this relates to his four alternatives, Darwin, FSCO/I and ba77’s sims I’ve no idea. And, frankly, if he has to go through all of that just to arrive at the principle of indifference, I don’t think I want to read more.

  67. 67
    bornagain77 says:

    Bob (and weave) was asked,

    “So you, as a materialist, assume that you have reliable cognitive faculties, i.e reliable “observations”, prior to seeing if Darwinian processes can produce them?”

    Bob (and weave) answered

    “At least partly reliable. Reliable enough to figure out, for example, that leaping off a 100 ft high cliff is a bad idea.”

    Bob (and weave) was corrected thusly,

    “materialism does NOT get a free pass in assuming into the premises the very thing that needs to be explained.
    The question is “CAN Darwinian processes produce reliable cognitive faculties?” The answer to that question is not, “We have fairly reliable cognitive faculties therefore Darwinian evolution must have produced them.”

    Caught in a hopeless dilemma, Bob (and weave) tries to retreat thusly,

    “you’re obviously trying to discuss something different,”

    No Bob (and weave), I was very specific in my question. The issue is clear cut. You have no warrant to believe Darwinian evolution can produce reliable cognitive faculties. Your refusal to deal honestly with the results does not negate that finding.

    You want to quibble over his GENEROUS concession of 50% to materialists of initial beliefs probably being true.

    What you don’t understand is that in that GENEROUS concession he also conceded to materialists ‘the hard problem of consciousness’ itself.

    In other words, he conceded to materialists a ‘blank slate’ immaterial mind in which true or false beliefs could be formed in the first place.

    I never would have done that. The failure of Darwinian processes to produce reliable cognitive faculties pales in comparison to the failure of reductive materialism to ever be able to give an adequate account of consciousness, i.e. specifically qualia. ,,, As David Barash stated:

    The Hardest Problem in Science? October 28, 2011
    Excerpt: ‘But the hard problem of consciousness is so hard that I can’t even imagine what kind of empirical findings would satisfactorily solve it. In fact, I don’t even know what kind of discovery would get us to first base, not to mention a home run.’
    – David Barash – Professor of Psychology emeritus at the University of Washington.
    https://www.chronicle.com/blogs/brainstorm/the-hardest-problem-in-science/40845

    Thus, Plantinga was VERY generous to materialists in that, in his argument, he granted not only that any given set of initial beliefs have a 50% probability of being true, (which kf explained exactly why he allowed that probability), but Plantinga also conceded a subjective immaterial mind in which beliefs could be formed. i.e. he conceded ‘the hard problem’ to materialists.

    Moreover, despite being far more generous than was necessary in his initial premises that he granted to materialists, the results STILL refuted the claims from Darwinists that Darwinian processes can produce reliable cognitive faculties.

    Bob, you further made a comment about not getting ‘derailed’.

    But having a ‘train of thought’ that can potentially be derailed, in and of itself, refutes your materialistic claims for the mind since having a ‘train of thought’ in the first place presupposes teleology, i.e. goal directed purpose..

    In short, having reliable cognitive faculties in and of itself is antithetical to your entire materialistic framework and thus us having reliable cognitive faculties in and of itself refutes your position.

    Dr. Egnor explains the irresolvable dilemma for materialists thusly,,,

    Teleology and the Mind – Michael Egnor – August 16, 2016
    Excerpt: From the hylemorphic perspective, there is an intimate link between the mind and teleology. The 19th-century philosopher Franz Brentano pointed out that the hallmark of the mind is that it is directed to something other than itself. That is, the mind has intentionality, which is the ability of a mental process to be about something, rather than to just be itself. Physical processes alone (understood without teleology) are not inherently about things. The mind is always about things. Stated another way, physical processes (understood without teleology) have no purpose. Mental processes always have purpose. In fact, purpose (aboutness-intentionality-teleology) is what defines the mind. And we see the same purpose (aboutness-intentionality-teleology) in nature.
    Intentionality is a form of teleology. Both intentionality and teleology are goal-directedness — intentionality is directedness in thought, and teleology is directedness in nature. Mind and teleology are both manifestations of purpose in nature. The mind is, within nature, the same kind of process that directs nature.
    In this sense, eliminative materialism is necessary if a materialist is to maintain a non-teleological Darwinian metaphysical perspective. It is purpose that must be denied in order to deny design in nature. So the mind, as well as teleology, must be denied. Eliminative materialism is just Darwinian metaphysics carried to its logical end and applied to man. If there is no teleology, there is no intentionality, and there is no purpose in nature nor in man’s thoughts.
    The link between intentionality and teleology, and the undeniability of teleology, is even more clear if we consider our inescapable belief that other people have minds. The inference that other people have minds based on their purposeful (intentional-teleological) behavior, which is obviously correct and is essential to living a sane life, can be applied to our understanding of nature as well. Just as we know that other people have purposes (intentionality), we know just as certainly that nature has purposes (teleology). In a sense, intelligent design is the recognition of the same purpose-teleology-intentionality in nature that we recognize in ourselves and others.
    Teleology and intentionality are certainly the inferences to be drawn from the obvious purposeful arrangement of parts in nature, but I (as a loyal Thomist!) believe that teleology and intentionality are manifest in an even more fundamental way in nature. Any goal-directed natural change is teleological, even if purpose and arrangement of parts is not clearly manifest. The behavior of a single electron orbiting a proton is teleological, because the motion of the electron hews to specific ends (according to quantum mechanics). A pencil falling to the floor behaves teleologically (it does not fall up, or burst into flame, etc.). Purposeful arrangement of parts is teleology on an even more sophisticated scale, but teleology exists in even the most basic processes in nature. Physics is no less teleological than biology.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2016/08/teleology_and_t/

    Thus in conclusion, not only can Darwinian processes not produce reliable cognitive faculties, but us having reliable cognitive faculties, specifically us having ‘intentionality in thought’ that might be subject to being ‘derailed’, in of itself, refutes the reductive materialistic foundation of Darwinian evolution.

    In short, If Bob believes his thoughts can be ‘derailed’, Bob does not believe in reductive materialism.

    Bob SHOULD rightly become a Theist if he believes in rational thought.

  68. 68
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H: In the thread above, we see Plantinga’s formal framework, laid out in an expression across four hypotheses. He then remarks on the sort of rough quantification that is possible and why it is adequate for relevant purposes. Surely, you know that such is often the case, and that in many cases even the sign of a trend is enough. The case, with onward discussion on objections etc is there to see. It is not a mere dubious assumption to provide responsible estimates. If you disagree, on what credible grounds do you provide alternative values? Especially, given the challenges and simulations that are also on the table. What would be question-begging would be to infer that we are here, so as we will only consider blind naturalistic forces, their likelihood of success must be sufficiently high. KF

    PS: I clip further from the clips in 54, which give key context:

    P(R/N&E) will be the weighted average of P(R/N&E&P i ) for each of the four possibilities P i –weighted by the probabilities, on N&E, of
    those possibilities. The probability calculus gives us a formula here:

    P(R/N&E) = (P(R/N&E&P 1 ) x P(P 1 /N&E)) + (P(R/N&E&P 2 ) x P(P 2 /N&E)) +
    (P(R/N&E&P 3 ) x P(P 3 /N&E)) + (P(R/N&E&P 4 ) x P(P 4 /N&E)).

    Of course the very idea of a calculation (suggesting, as it does, the assignment of specific real
    numbers to these various probabilities) is laughable: the best we can do are vague estimates. But
    that is all we need for the argument
    . For consider the left-hand multiplicand in each of the four
    terms on the right-hand side of the equation. In the first three, the sensible estimate would put
    the value low, considerably less that 1/2; in the 4th, it isn’t very clear what the value would be,
    but it couldn’t be much more than 1/2. But then (since the probabilities of P1 and of P2 (the two
    forms of epiphenomenalism) would be fairly high, given naturalism, and since the right hand
    multiplicands in the four terms cannot sum to more than 1) that means that the value of
    P(R/N&E) will be less than 1/2; and that is enough for the argument
    .
    But the argument for a low estimate of P(R/N&E) is by no means irresistible; our
    estimates of the various probabilities involved in estimating P(R/N&E) with respect to that
    hypothetical population were (naturally enough) both imprecise and poorly grounded. You
    might reasonably hold, therefore, that the right course here is simple agnosticism: one just
    doesn’t know what that probability is. You doubt that it is very high; but you aren’t prepared to
    say that it is low
    : you have no definite opinion at all as to what that probability might be. Then
    this probability is inscrutable for you. This too seems a sensible attitude to take. The sensible
    thing to think, then, is that P(R/N&E) is either low or inscrutable
    .

    Notice, his carefully balanced estimation and conclusion which he will proceed to defend.

    Onward, the significance is, the confidence that blind naturalistic forces easily account for minds that can apprehend truth and reason soundly, is ill-founded.

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