Intelligent Design

Belief?

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Mark Frank: “Evolution does not select for specific beliefs.”

Of course not Mark, if by “evolution” you mean materialist Neo-Darwinian evolution. This is the case for the simple reason that if materialism is true, “beliefs” as they are commonly understood do not exist. They are an illusion, mere “folk psychology” according to Dennett.

95 Replies to “Belief?

  1. 1
    keith s says:

    Barry,

    They [beliefs] are an illusion, mere “folk psychology” according to Dennett.

    Do you have a quote? Dennett is an eliminativist about qualia, but not, as far as I know, about beliefs.

    Also, what is the essential property of a belief that cannot be captured by materialism, in your opinion?

    Lastly, don’t forget to respond to my comment on the Fred thread:

    Barry,

    I’ve shown that Pearcey’s argument – if it were correct – would undermine an ID-based epistemology just as surely as it would undermine an evolutionary epistemology.

    If you have a viable counterargument, let’s hear it.

  2. 2
    Andre says:

    These guys are just too precious, we can’t trust our senses, but not to worry materialism is true…… they just know it! They tell us everyday that you can’t really know…….

    Well how do you know that you can’t know? How do you know that you can’t trust your senses? How do you know God does not exist? How do you know materialism is true? What do you ground this on?

  3. 3
    Andre says:

    Keith S

    Also, what is the essential property of a belief that cannot be captured by materialism

    Beliefs are intentional states, they do not consist of any matter…. so the average materialist tries to confirm his denial with that which he denies in the first place……

    You can figure out what that means, but knowing already that the average atheists have faulty logic (intentional) you probably won’t.

  4. 4
    keith s says:

    Andre,

    How do you know that beliefs are non-physical?

  5. 5
    Andre says:

    Keith S

    Beliefs are first and foremost a mental state, not a brain state and here is why, we can freely choose to change our beliefs anytime we want, matter or chemical reactions does not work that way.

    Mere matter can’t change its mind….. get it?

  6. 6
    keith s says:

    Andre:

    …we can freely choose to change our beliefs anytime we want…

    “I’m just one hundred and one, five months and a day.”
    “I can’t believe that!” said Alice.
    “Can’t you?” the Queen said in a pitying tone. “Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.”
    Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”
    “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

  7. 7
    Andre says:

    Keith S

    What does your quote from a story book have to do with reality? Seriously have you never ever changed your mind? Do you want to tell me that chemical reactions have the capability to search for truth and override the laws of nature? You are even more delusional than I thought.

  8. 8
    keith s says:

    Andre,

    I was trying to point out the obvious: It is not possible to change one’s beliefs on a whim, as Alice understood. Not even if you draw a long breath and shut your eyes.

    Do you want to tell me that chemical reactions have the capability to search for truth and override the laws of nature?

    The brain — a physical object — has the capability of searching for truth (though it isn’t always successful), but that doesn’t require that it “override the laws of nature” — just as a computer can search for a solution to a problem while nevertheless being bound by the laws of nature.

  9. 9
    Andre says:

    Keith S

    Ahh so Alice a fictional character has credibility but a living human being like me has none? I went from being an atheist to a theist in the space of an hour……. that is changing my belief on a whim or is my faculties too unreliable to count as any type of testimony versus fictional Alice?

  10. 10
    Andre says:

    Keith S

    I thought that comparing a human to a computer is a bad analogy to use? You’re going to have to do better than that, because you know as well as I do computers do not search for truth humans do!

  11. 11
    keith s says:

    keiths:

    I was trying to point out the obvious: It is not possible to change one’s beliefs on a whim, as Alice understood. Not even if you draw a long breath and shut your eyes.

    Andre:

    Ahh so Alice a fictional character has credibility but a living human being like me has none? I went from being an atheist to a theist in the space of an hour……. that is changing my belief on a whim or is my faculties too unreliable to count as any type of testimony versus fictional Alice?

    Okay, for the next 24 hours I want you to believe, absolutely, that you are a turnip. Ready…set…go.

  12. 12
    keith s says:

    Andre,

    I thought that comparing a human to a computer is a bad analogy to use?

    That depends on the analogy being drawn.

    You’re going to have to do better than that, because you know as well as I do computers do not search for truth humans do!

    When a computer is searching for the solution to an equation, you don’t think it’s searching for a true solution?

  13. 13
    Andre says:

    I can’t believe I’m a turnip, because I don’t know what it feels like to be a turnip……

  14. 14
    Andre says:

    No I don’t because If the programming was setup that

    1 + 2 = 7. It simply won’t know that it is false, machines cannot search for truth.

  15. 15
    Mark Frank says:

    Barry – Dennett doesn’t think belief in general is mere folk pyschology. He thinks it is folk psychology to ascribe beliefs to other things and animals – quite a different proposition.

    The reason evolution does not select for specific beliefs is that beliefs are not passed on genetically (or epigenetically). You acquire beliefs during the course of your life time and they may be passed on to your descendents culturally but not biologically.

  16. 16
    Andre says:

    Keith S

    The brain — a physical object — has the capability of searching for truth (though it isn’t always successful), but that doesn’t require that it “override the laws of nature”

    So Tell me Keith S, since you know that your search for truth may not be successful what gives that you are so sure about your intentional state that God does not exist?

    Perhaps follow your own advice and be more cautious about what you think is true? You can’t rely on that brain of yours now can you?

  17. 17
    Andre says:

    Mark Frank

    Each person has the capability to change his beliefs so even if you throw culture at it you’d still be wrong.

  18. 18
    keith s says:

    Andre,

    I can’t believe I’m a turnip, because I don’t know what it feels like to be a turnip……

    It’s like being Andre, but with less talking.

    Now that that’s out of the way, I want you to believe that you are a turnip for the next 24 hours. Ready…set…go.

  19. 19
    Andre says:

    Keith S

    I am telling you that I don’t know what its like to be a turnip so I can’t believe I’m one….. No matter how much you tell me I should believe it I can’t. I do however know what its like to be me.

    Cogito ergo sum……

    Bless you Descartes!

  20. 20
    Andre says:

    I however prefer the longer form…..

    dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum

  21. 21
    Mark Frank says:

    #17 Andre

    Each person has the capability to change his beliefs so even if you throw culture at it you’d still be wrong.

    Wrong about what? I am confused.

  22. 22
    bornagain77 says:

    of note:

    Why No One (Can) Believe Atheism/Naturalism to be True (Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism) – 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”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4QFsKevTXs

    as to this following claim by Mark:

    “Evolution does not select for specific beliefs.”

    as to that claim, the following exchange I had yesterday on another thread is interesting:

    ,,, when I presented Dr. Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism to an atheist, the atheist said the following in response to me:

    ‘Creatures inveterately wrong in their inductions have a pathetic but praiseworthy tendency to die before reproducing their kind.’

    In response to him, I pointed out the fact that atheists have a much lower reproduction rate than Theists,,,

    ‘Believers’ gene’ will spread religion , says academic – January 2011
    Excerpt: The World Values Survey, which covered 82 nations from 1981 to 2004, found that adults who attended religious services more than once a week had 2.5 children on average; while those who went once a month had two; and those who never attended had 1.67.
    Prof Rowthorn wrote: “The more devout people are, the more children they are likely to have.”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sci.....demic.html

    I also pointed out that atheists ‘have a pathetic but praiseworthy tendency to die before reproducing their kind’

    Atheism and health
    A meta-analysis of all studies, both published and unpublished, relating to religious involvement and longevity was carried out in 2000. Forty-two studies were included, involving some 126,000 subjects. Active religious involvement increased the chance of living longer by some 29%, and participation in public religious practices, such as church attendance, increased the chance of living longer by 43%.[4][5]
    http://www.conservapedia.com/Atheism_and_health

    Moreover, atheists have the lowest retention rate of any religion

    Why do atheists have such a low retention rate? – July 2012
    Excerpt: Only about 30 percent of those who grow up in an atheist household remain atheists as adults. This “retention rate” was the lowest among the 20 separate categories in the study.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....tion-rate/

    After I cited those facts to him, I asked the atheist this:

    Thus either the you are right and evolution is producing a true belief, and that true belief is Theism, since atheists have a ‘praiseworthy tendency to die before reproducing their kind’, or Dr. Plantinga is right and there is no guarantee that the results of Darwinian evolution will produce true beliefs about the nature of reality! Which is it?

    He refused to answer the question and left the thread. And no wonder, either answer is a self defeater for the position of evolutionary naturalism!

    In response to that another atheist said:

    … which doesn’t matter, because religion is transmitted culturally, not genetically.

    To which I responded,

    “your belief that religion is merely a “cultural replicator”, i.e. a ‘meme’, is contradicted by empirical evidence”:

    Infants ‘have natural belief in God’ – July 26, 2008
    Excerpt: INFANTS are hard-wired to believe in God, and atheism has to be learned, according to an Oxford University psychologist.
    Dr Olivera Petrovich told a University of Western Sydney conference on the psychology of religion that even preschool children constructed theological concepts as part of their understanding of the physical world.
    Pyschologists have debated whether belief in God or atheism was the natural human state. According to Dr Petrovich, an expert in psychology of religion, belief in God is not taught but develops naturally.
    She told The Age yesterday that belief in God emerged as a result of other psychological development connected with understanding causation.
    It was hard-wired into the human psyche, but it was important not to build too much into the concept of God. “It’s the concept of God as creator, primarily,” she said. Dr Petrovich said her findings were based on several studies, particularly one of Japanese children aged four to six, and another of 400 British children aged five to seven from seven different faiths.
    “Atheism is definitely an acquired position,” she said.
    per ‘the age’

    Children are born believers in God, academic claims – Telegraph – November 2008
    Excerpt: “The preponderance of scientific evidence for the past 10 years or so has shown that a lot more seems to be built into the natural development of children’s minds than we once thought, including a predisposition to see the natural world as designed and purposeful and that some kind of intelligent being is behind that purpose,”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new.....laims.html

    More Studies Show Children Are Wired for Religious Belief: A Brief Literature Review – Casey Luskin August 7, 2014
    Excerpt: We see, then, multiple studies converging on a single conclusion: the innate predisposition of the human mind to believe that there is some kind of an intelligent creator God. Perhaps as we get older we may override this programming, but our fundamental constitution appears oriented to religious belief.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....88551.html

    Thus, my original response to the original atheist holds:

    Thus either the you are right and evolution is producing a true belief, and that true belief is Theism, since atheists have a ‘praiseworthy tendency to die before reproducing their kind’, or Dr. Plantinga is right and there is no guarantee that the results of Darwinian evolution will produce true beliefs about the nature of reality! Which is it?

    He refused to answer the question and left the thread. And no wonder, either answer is a self defeater for the position of evolutionary naturalism!

    To which the second atheist responded:

    Empirical evidence? Like the b.s. paraded as evidence by Justin L. Barrett?

    “In one study, six and seven-year-olds who were asked why the first bird existed replied “to make nice music” and “because it makes the world look nice”.

    The tendentious wording of “Why the fist bird existed” already suggests that there was a “first bird” and that there was a “reason why”. Objection — a leading question!

    “Another experiment on 12-month-old babies suggested that they were surprised by a film in which a rolling ball apparently created a neat stack of blocks from a disordered heap.”

    Dr Barrett said there is evidence that even by the age of four, children understand that although some objects are made by humans, the natural world is different.

    “He added that this means children are more likely to believe in creationism rather than evolution, despite what they may be told by parents or teachers.”

    Ah, yes. Evolution = a disorderly heap of blocks becomes a neat stack when hit by a rolling ball. Objection — a straw man!

    “Dr Barrett claimed anthropologists have found that in some cultures children believe in God even when religious teachings are withheld from them.”
    ,,,

    To which I responded:

    “the trouble with your criticism of Barrett is that even atheists cannot escape the deep seeded belief that things exist for a purpose and are not an accident”:

    Design Thinking Is Hardwired in the Human Brain. How Come? – October 17, 2012
    Excerpt: “Even Professional Scientists Are Compelled to See Purpose in Nature, Psychologists Find.” The article describes a test by Boston University’s psychology department, in which researchers found that “despite years of scientific training, even professional chemists, geologists, and physicists from major universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Yale cannot escape a deep-seated belief that natural phenomena exist for a purpose” ,,,
    Most interesting, though, are the questions begged by this research. One is whether it is even possible to purge teleology from explanation.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65381.html

    Thus atheists are in actuality suffering from the mental illness of denialism:

    Although there are various methods for scientifically detecting design, basically, at its most foundational level, ‘design detection’ is an inbuilt, ‘natural’, ability that humans possess because of the ‘image of God’ that they have within themselves.

    In the following video Dr. Behe quotes Richard Dawkins himself from his book ‘The Blind Watchmaker’, in noting that ‘design detection’ is a ‘natural’ for humans:

    “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose”
    Richard Dawkins – “The Blind Watchmaker” – 1986 – page 1

    “We may say that a living body or organ is well designed if it has attributes that an intelligent knowledgeable engineer might have built into it in order to achieve some sensible purpose… Any engineer can recognize an object that has been designed… simply by looking at the structure of the object.”
    Richard Dawkins – “The Blind Watchmaker” – 1986 – page 21

    “Yet the living results of natural selection overwhelmingly impress us with the appearance of design as if by a master watchmaker, impress us with the illusion of design and planning.”
    Richard Dawkins – “The Blind Watchmaker” – 1986 – page 21

    Michael Behe – Life Reeks Of Design – 2010 – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hdh-YcNYThY

    Moreover, Richards Dawkins is not the only atheist who seems to be afflicted with this mental illness of seeing the ‘illusion of design’ pervasively throughout life. And I note that they are seeing ‘the appearance of design’ even though they have never conducted any scientific experiments, or mathematical calculations, to scientifically ‘detect design’ in life, in anything man-made, or in anything otherwise:

    living organisms “appear to have been carefully and artfully designed”
    Lewontin

    “The appearance of purposefulness is pervasive in nature.”
    George Gaylord Simpson

    Indeed, the atheist Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA, seems to have been particularly haunted by this illusion of seeing design everywhere he looked in molecular biology:

    “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.”
    Francis Crick – What Mad Pursuit

    “Organisms appear as if they had been designed to perform in an astonishingly efficient way, and the human mind therefore finds it hard to accept that there need be no Designer to achieve this”
    Francis Crick – What Mad Pursuit – p. 30

    Thus, since these atheists are seeing the ‘illusion of design’, (seeing this illusion of design with what they claim to be to be the ‘illusion of mind’ I might add 🙂 ), without ever conducting any scientific experiments to ever rigorously ‘detect design’, then of course the ID advocate would be well justified in saying that these atheists are not really suffering from a mental illness at all but they are in fact ‘naturally detecting design’ because of the inherent ‘image of God’ that they have within themselves.

    Verse and Music:

    Romans 1:19
    since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

    Russ Lee – I Smile
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHjUZoS-3Uk

  23. 23

    MF:

    Barry – Dennett doesn’t think belief in general is mere folk pyschology. He thinks it is folk psychology to ascribe beliefs to other things and animals – quite a different proposition.

    Indeed, for Dennett, to take varying “stances” toward various objects (physical, design, intentional) is to have beliefs about them.

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Let us not forget that a major definition of knowledge is something like, warranted, credibly true (or at least reliable) belief. That bridge between knowledge and belief is I believe, highly relevant to the context of issues surfaced by this thread. Where, belief is often shown by attitude and behaviour rather than actual creedal declaration and confession. KF

  25. 25
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: I should add that if Dennett has posited “We’re all zombies. Nobody is conscious . . . “ then absent strongest possible public repudiation since [where, when, in what forum?], any theory of belief he holds is under the stricture that he implies general delusion and so self-referential incoherence.

    As a direct logical implication, BA would be dead right to sum up:

    if materialism is true,[THEN] “beliefs” as they are commonly understood do not exist. They are an illusion, mere “folk psychology” according to Dennett.

    Folk psychology, in this context, would be a general label for the delusion of consciousness that we hold about ourselves as a common sense view — folk psychology being in material part a loaded rephrasing of what “common sense” denotes — and project to others.

    And if projecting beliefs to others who appear to be of the same race is part of that general pattern of delusion of consciousness . . . belief is a manifestation of consciousness . . . then by reciprocity that extends to ourselves.

    In short, BA’s summary is apt as a short and sharp outline of the matter.

  26. 26
    Neil Rickert says:

    Mark Frank: “Evolution does not select for specific beliefs.”

    I not sure what you see as a problem with that.

    It is pretty much equivalent to “beliefs are not innate”. And, in that formulation, there is no mention of “evolution.” The evidence seems to support it.

  27. 27
    JDH says:

    I really have a hard time understanding how keith_s, Mark Frank, and other materialists actually participate in this thread. It seems to me that if they just took a moment of thought they would see that their position is logically incoherent. Why can they not see that? I can only conclude that they have found a nugget of hope to believe in that allows them to power through the logical incoherence of their beliefs. Do they not understand the statement, “I have looked at the evidence and concluded that materialism is true,” is an impossible statement. If materialism is true, there is first of all no I to do the concluding, and the material object identified as “I” can not possibly have the power to make an objective conclusion.

  28. 28

    Mark Frank said:

    Evolution does not select for specific beliefs.

    Darwinian evolution doesn’t select “for” anything, Mark. You should know that. If one is going to make a case that evolutionary processes favor brain-state, mindset outcomes which, on average, represent accurate correspondence to the world, then one must accept the evidence (as so wonderfully laid out by BA77 in post 22): humans have evolved to believe in god, design and purpose.

    Atheists/materialist can’t have it both ways. If evolution doesn’t favor world-correspondence accuracy of beliefs, then atheism, scientism, materialism are in the exact same lost boat as any religion. If evolution does favor true beliefs, then you must give what is due to even those beliefs you disagree with, and you must see your own beliefs in the proper light, when the evidence overwhelming indicates evolutionary winners and losers.

  29. 29

    JDH said:

    I really have a hard time understanding how keith_s, Mark Frank, and other materialists actually participate in this thread. It seems to me that if they just took a moment of thought they would see that their position is logically incoherent. Why can they not see that? I can only conclude…

    IMHO, they have chosen to believe what they believe, largely for emotional reasons, and it is so much “who they are” that they have a cognitive bias (what Mr. Arrington refers to as a Derangement Syndrome) that simply will not allow them to see what is so obvious to the rest of us.

    I believe we have real free will, and with it we can choose to believe even that which is patently absurd and self-negating. It’s amazing to see that at work in these discussions.

    They “know”, indeed are absolutely certain, that there is no god; and so, regardless of how self-contradictory, hypocritical or empty their positions are shown to be, they still smirk and laugh at others because, in their mind, theists are beyond foolish and childish for believing in sky-daddies and magic fairies (what they see theism as). They cannot for a second put aside their own smug, condescending certainty and sense of superiority to honestly think through the arguments and the evidence.

    I had to take on the task of seeing if I could honestly, deliberately undermine my own atheism to get beyond it, and it was only because I chose to pursue theism that I was able to see how empty and emotion-based my atheism was.

  30. 30
    Mark Frank says:

    #28 WJM

    Darwinian evolution doesn’t select “for” anything, Mark. You should know that.

    Fair enough – I will remove the word “for”. Evolution does not select beliefs.
     

    If one is going to make a case that evolutionary processes favor brain-state, mindset outcomes which, on average, represent accurate correspondence to the world, then one must accept the evidence (as so wonderfully laid out by BA77 in post 22): humans have evolved to believe in god, design and purpose.

    I rarely read BA77 – life is too short – but I did actually discuss this in my comment on other thread. Humans may well have evolved a tendency to believe in god, design and purpose which while a good survival strategy has often lead them to believe things that are false. However, there is also a massive survival advantage in mostly getting it right. So we have evolved reasoning and observation tools and tendencies (not beliefs) which work pretty well most of the time – albeit with certain biases and shortcuts which are advantageous but can lead us to believe false things.

    Atheists/materialist can’t have it both ways. If evolution doesn’t favor world-correspondence accuracy of beliefs, then atheism, scientism, materialism are in the exact same lost boat as any religion. If evolution does favor true beliefs, then you must give what is due to even those beliefs you disagree with, and you must see your own beliefs in the proper light, when the evidence overwhelming indicates evolutionary winners and losers.

    I can’t make head or tail of this paragraph.

  31. 31
    Mark Frank says:

    #29 WJM

    They “know”, indeed are absolutely certain, that there is no god; and so, regardless of how self-contradictory, hypocritical or empty their positions are shown to be, they still smirk and laugh at others because, in their mind, theists are beyond foolish and childish for believing in sky-daddies and magic fairies (what they see theism as). They cannot for a second put aside their own smug, condescending certainty and sense of superiority to honestly think through the arguments and the evidence.

    As far as I can remember I have never written anything about the personalities and motivations of theists (with one exception – I have noted Barry’s lawyerly love of winning debates at all costs).  This is because there are many I love and respect including close family. 

  32. 32
    bornagain77 says:

    WJM, given your background in the study of the primacy of ‘mind’, I think you will appreciate these quotes:

    There is simply no direct evidence that anything material is capable of generating consciousness. As Rutgers University philosopher Jerry Fodor says,

    “Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. Nobody even knows what it would be like to have the slightest idea about how anything material could be conscious. So much for the philosophy of consciousness. Regardless of our knowledge of the structure of the brain, no one has any idea how the brain could possibly generate conscious experience.”

    As Nobel neurophysiologist Roger Sperry wrote,

    “Those centermost processes of the brain with which consciousness is presumably associated are simply not understood. They are so far beyond our comprehension at present that no one I know of has been able even to imagine their nature.”

    From modern physics, Nobel prize-winner Eugene Wigner agreed:

    “We have at present not even the vaguest idea how to connect the physio-chemical processes with the state of mind.”

    Contemporary physicist Nick Herbert states,

    “Science’s biggest mystery is the nature of consciousness. It is not that we possess bad or imperfect theories of human awareness; we simply have no such theories at all. About all we know about consciousness is that it has something to do with the head, rather than the foot.”

    Physician and author Larry Dossey wrote:

    “No experiment has ever demonstrated the genesis of consciousness from matter. One might as well believe that rabbits emerge from magicians’ hats. Yet this vaporous possibility, this neuro-mythology, has enchanted generations of gullible scientists, in spite of the fact that there is not a shred of direct evidence to support it.”

    http://www.merkawah.nl/public_.....gwrepr.pdf

  33. 33
    Andre says:

    Brains evolved for logic and reason Mark? Seriously do you honestly believe that? And for whatever reason can you trust your tendencies or beliefs as being true?

  34. 34
    StephenB says:

    KeithS

    Barry,

    I’ve shown that Pearcey’s argument – if it were correct – would undermine an ID-based epistemology just as surely as it would undermine an evolutionary epistemology.

    Under an ID-based epistemology, our cognitive capacities are given to us by the designer. Are they reliable? We simply don’t know. It depends on the designer.

    You are confusing (and conflating) the effect (how we receive our capacity) with the cause (how we use that capacity. They are not the same thing.

    (The effect) How we receive our cognitive capacity

    If the designer creates the comprehending mind and the comprehensible universe to be in correspondence, then our knowledge is reliable. The subject, or the knower, is designed to be in correspondence with the object, or the thing known. If they are not designed to be in correspondence, then knowledge is not reliable. Thus, if the Creator designs an ordered universe, which is an ID friendly metaphysic, then knowledge is reliable (though not necessarily perfect or complete)

    Can we verify that they are reliable? Not without relying on reason — and assuming that our reason is reliable would be begging the question.

    (The cause) How we use our cognitive capacity

    We don’t have to assume that reason is reliable. We know that reason is reliable because we can test our internal logic against the logical order of the external world.

    –Internal logic: If it rains, the streets will get wet.

    –Logical order of the real world: Every time it rains, the streets get wet.

    Our internal logic never violates the logical order of the real world, and vice versa. Notice also that the argument presented is both valid and sound. If knowledge wasn’t reliable, we could not make the distinction between a valid argument and a sound argument.

  35. 35
    humbled says:

    Atheism is a disorder, the psychological, mental and spiritual equivalent to physically cutting yourself on purpose. This disorder is apparent the second an atheist attempts to discuss logic and reason. Their explanations are so full of self harm and purposeful inconsistencies. Their condition forces this behaviour and once their condition has been diagnosed/established, their insanity becomes more understandable.

  36. 36
    goodusername says:

    StephenB,

    If the designer creates the comprehending mind and the comprehensible universe to be in correspondence, then our knowledge is reliable.

    Yes, but you’d have to already believe that your mind is reliable in order to believe your argument that God gave you a reliable mind.

    We don’t have to assume that reason is reliable. We know that reason is reliable because we can test our internal logic against the logical order of the external world.

    –Internal logic: If it rains, the streets will get wet.

    –Logical order of the real world: Every time it rains, the streets get wet.

    Our internal logic never violates the logical order of the real world, and vice versa. Notice also that the argument presented is both valid and sound. If knowledge wasn’t reliable, we could not make the distinction between a valid argument and a sound argument.

    Don’t you see that you’re relying on the reliability of your reason to make this argument?

    This reminds of me of a conversation I once had in a nursing home with a lady who had pretty severe alzheimer’s.

    Our of the blue she complained about some folks who were trying to tell her that her memory is impaired.
    She protested the suggestion that she had a memory problem, arguing that if her memory was bad she’d remember that it was bad.

    I believe that I have an (at least somewhat) reliable brain, just as you do. I believe minds resulted from evolution, although I have no idea how, and those that believe that God created minds (usually) admit that they have no idea how that was done, and so we’re all in the same boat. We’re also in the same boat of not knowing for certain that our brains are actually reliable. To realize that our brains are unreliable would require brains reliable enough to realize so! 🙂

  37. 37
    keith s says:

    StephenB,

    You are confusing (and conflating) the effect (how we receive our capacity) with the cause (how we use that capacity.

    Um, no.

    If the designer creates the comprehending mind and the comprehensible universe to be in correspondence, then our knowledge is reliable.

    Sure, but you don’t know that he, she, or it actually does so — if there is a designer at all.

    The subject, or the knower, is designed to be in correspondence with the object, or the thing known.

    You are assuming this rather than demonstrating it.

    Thus, if the Creator designs an ordered universe, which is an ID friendly metaphysic, then knowledge is reliable (though not necessarily perfect or complete)

    That doesn’t follow. An ordered universe does not require the presence of reliable intellects.

    We don’t have to assume that reason is reliable. We know that reason is reliable because we can test our internal logic against the logical order of the external world.

    –Internal logic: If it rains, the streets will get wet.

    –Logical order of the real world: Every time it rains, the streets get wet.

    Our internal logic never violates the logical order of the real world, and vice versa.

    Seriously? You think that people never make logical mistakes?

    You haven’t thought this through, Stephen.

  38. 38
    rhampton7 says:

    I would like to interject that reliability need not be all or nothing. Our brains are not particularly reliable when it comes to remembering incidents. Plenty of experiments have shown the the mere act of recalling reshapes the memory itself. And compared to video, the brain is rather faulty.

    I would say our brains are reliable enough to understand a great many things about this universe. Robust, but very far from the perfection of logic.

  39. 39
    StephenB says:

    SB: If the designer creates the comprehending mind and the comprehensible universe to be in correspondence, then our knowledge is reliable.

    KeithS

    Sure, but you don’t know that he, she, or it actually does so — if there is a designer at all.

    Logical error #1

    I don’t have to know it. If that scenario is true, then at least one version of ID methodology assures reliable knowledge.

    SB: The subject, or the knower, is designed to be in correspondence with the object, or the thing known.

    You are assuming this rather than demonstrating it.

    Logical error #2

    I am not assuming it is true. I am pointing out that if it is true, that is, if the Creator designs the universe such that the subject corresponds with the object, then reliable knowledge is assured.

    If the theistic version of ID methodology which I presented assures reliable knowledge, then your argument is refuted. You claimed that ID methodology in general, which by definition includes all variations, cannot guarantee reliable knowledge. Obviously, some variations of ID methodology do guarantee reliable knowledge.

    Logical error #3. You defined “ID methodology” as both a cause (something the creator provides) and as an effect (something the creature uses). You have to go with one and abandon the other. You definition is incoherent. (You have yet to correct that error).

    SB: Thus, if the Creator designs an ordered universe, which is an ID friendly metaphysic, then knowledge is reliable (though not necessarily perfect or complete)

    That doesn’t follow. An ordered universe does not require the presence of reliable intellects.

    I am defining an orderly universe as one in which the subject is designed to correspond with the object. Under the theistic model, this is the case.

    SB”: We don’t have to assume that reason is reliable. We know that reason is reliable because we can test our internal logic against the logical order of the external world.

    –Internal logic: If it rains, the streets will get wet.

    –Logical order of the real world: Every time it rains, the streets get wet.

    Our internal logic never violates the logical order of the real world, and vice versa.

    Seriously? You think that people never make logical mistakes?

    Logical error #4

    To say that internal logic corresponds to the order of the universe is not to say that people don’t make logical mistakes. Just because you made several logical mistakes in your response doesn’t mean that internal logic is not inextricably connected to the logical order of the universe.

    The following is still true:

    ———————————————————–

    –Internal logic: If it rains, the streets will get wet.

    –Logical order of the real world: Every time it rains, the streets get wet.

    Our internal logic never violates the logical order of the real world, and vice versa.

    ——————————————————–

    If it rains, the streets will get wet, logically and in the real world. Your logical errors have nothing to do with it.

    You haven’t thought this through, Stephen.

    Obviously, you are the one who has not thought this matter through.

  40. 40
    Andre says:

    I have to say I am amazed at the hypocrisy, special pleading, double standards and whatever else you want to call our materialist friends….

    Here is how it goes……. The atheist claims that he uses reason and logic to make his claim there is no god. When the atheist can not defend this position and the self evident truth of God is more than apparent to him then he changes his claim about reason and logic and makes it clear to all that neither brains nor minds can not really be trusted. This is intellectual cowardice and nothing else.

  41. 41
    keith s says:

    Andre,

    You’ve always had difficulty grasping this, but I don’t say that brains and minds can’t be trusted. I merely say that we can’t be certain of their reliability. The distinction seems to be lost on you.

    Our brains are pretty good, but people still make mistakes all the time. Our thinking is not perfectly reliable.

  42. 42
    goodusername says:

    StephenB,

    I don’t have to know it. If that scenario is true, then at least one version of ID methodology assures reliable knowledge.

    And at least one scenario of evolution, if true, assures that our brains are reliable – that there’s a link between survival and brains that are capable of discerning the truth (which certainly makes sense: Why have senses and eyes and ears if the brain can’t use that info to make any sense of the environment?)

  43. 43
    keith s says:

    StephenB:

    If the designer creates the comprehending mind and the comprehensible universe to be in correspondence, then our knowledge is reliable.

    KeithS:

    Sure, but you don’t know that he, she, or it actually does so — if there is a designer at all.

    Stephen:

    Logical error #1

    Stephen, you don’t need to label your logical errors. I recognize them when I see them.

    Stephen:

    I don’t have to know it. If that scenario is true, then at least one version of ID methodology assures reliable knowledge.

    And if other ID scenarios are true, then reliable knowledge is not assured. You don’t know which, if either, is the case.

    There are also non-design scenarios in which reliable knowledge is assured, and one of those might be true.

    Stephen:

    The subject, or the knower, is designed to be in correspondence with the object, or the thing known.

    keiths:

    You are assuming this rather than demonstrating it.

    Stephen:

    I am not assuming it is true. I am pointing out that if it is true, that is, if the Creator designs the universe such that the subject corresponds with the object, then reliable knowledge is assured.

    Yes. And if the creator doesn’t design the universe that way, or if there is no creator at all, then reliable knowledge is not assured.

    We’re back where we started.

    If the theistic version of ID methodology which I presented assures reliable knowledge, then your argument is refuted. You claimed that ID methodology in general, which by definition includes all variations, cannot guarantee reliable knowledge.

    No. I said this:

    Barry,

    My point is that if you are willing to reject evolutionary epistemology on the basis of Pearcey’s argument, then consistency requires you to reject ID-based epistemology as well.

    …which is correct.

    You defined “ID methodology”…

    I’m not sure where you’re getting that phrase. I used “ID-based epistemology”.

    You defined “ID methodology”as both a cause (something the creator provides) and as an effect (something the creature uses).

    No. That is your misinterpretation.

    Epistemology is concerned, among other things, with the questions of whether, when and how we know that our knowledge is trustworthy.

    Stephen:

    Thus, if the Creator designs an ordered universe, which is an ID friendly metaphysic, then knowledge is reliable (though not necessarily perfect or complete)

    keiths:

    That doesn’t follow. An ordered universe does not require the presence of reliable intellects.

    I am defining an orderly universe as one in which the subject is designed to correspond with the object. Under the theistic model, this is the case.

    That’s an odd definition. In any case, there are other models in which intellects aren’t reliable.

    We’re back to square one again. Intellects might or might not be generally reliable.

    Stephen:

    We don’t have to assume that reason is reliable. We know that reason is reliable because we can test our internal logic against the logical order of the external world.

    That doesn’t prove that reason is reliable, but it does increase our confidence. And note that this works under both theistic and atheistic models.

    Stephen:

    Our internal logic never violates the logical order of the real world, and vice versa.

    keiths:

    Seriously? You think that people never make logical mistakes?

    Stephen:

    To say that internal logic corresponds to the order of the universe is not to say that people don’t make logical mistakes.

    Yes, it is. If you decide, via faulty logic, that Colonel Mustard is the perpetrator, when in fact only Professor Plum is guilty, then your internal logic does not “correspond to the order of the universe”.

  44. 44
    Mung says:

    If you decide, via faulty logic, that Colonel Mustard is the perpetrator, when in fact Colonel Mustard is guilty, then your internal logic does not “correspond to the order of the universe”

    Get a clue.

  45. 45
    StephenB says:

    KeithS

    reliable knowledge is not assured. You don’t know which, if either, is the case.

    Reliable knowledge is assured under the theistic interpretation of ID epistemology. If any interpretation of ID epistemology provides reliable knowledge, then your claim is refuted.

    There are also non-design scenarios in which reliable knowledge is assured, and one of those might be true.

    Irrelevant

    Yes. And if the creator doesn’t design the universe that way, or if there is no creator at all, then reliable knowledge is not assured.

    I am referring to the God of tradition who is understood to have designed the universe in that way.

    No. I said this:

    Barry,

    My point is that if you are willing to reject evolutionary epistemology on the basis of Pearcey’s argument, then consistency requires you to reject ID-based epistemology as well.

    …which is correct.

    That is the claim I am refuting. At least one version of ID-based epistemology assures reliable knowledge.

    SB: Thus, if the Creator designs an ordered universe, which is an ID friendly metaphysic, then knowledge is reliable (though not necessarily perfect or complete)

    That doesn’t follow. An ordered universe does not require the presence of reliable intellects.

    It follows as surely as the night follows the day. If we are designed to know reality as it is, then we know reality as it is.

    SB: I am defining an orderly universe as one in which the subject is designed to correspond with the object. Under the theistic model, this is the case.

    That’s an odd definition. In any case, there are other models in which intellects aren’t reliable.

    If even one ID-based epistemology assures reliable knowledge, then your claim is refuted.

    SB: We don’t have to assume that reason is reliable. We know that reason is reliable because we can test our internal logic against the logical order of the external world.

    That doesn’t prove that reason is reliable, but it does increase our confidence. And note that this works under both theistic and atheistic models.

    Yes, it does. That is the definition of reliable knowledge–for the mind to be in correspondence with the real world. Darwinism cannot provide it for the reasons Pearcey outlines.

    SB: To say that internal logic corresponds to the order of the universe is not to say that people don’t make logical mistakes.

    Yes, it is.

    No, it isn’t.

    If you decide, via faulty logic, that Colonel Mustard is the perpetrator, when in fact only Professor Plum is guilty, then your internal logic does not “correspond to the order of the universe”.

    Mung, with his usual perspicacity, has already penetrated your error.

    If you decide, via faulty logic, that Colonel Mustard is the perpetrator, when in fact Colonel Mustard is guilty, then your internal logic does not “correspond to the order of the universe”

  46. 46
    keith s says:

    StephenB,

    Your errors are compounding, so let me try to make this as simple as possible for you:

    1. If our cognitive systems were designed, we can’t be sure that they are reliable. They might or might not be, depending on what the designer did.

    2. If our cognitive systems evolved, we also can’t be sure that they are reliable.

    3. In either case, the best we can do is to examine our cognitive systems from the inside, testing them for consistency and for correspondence to observations.

    4. If Pearcey (and Plantingua/Lewis/Reppert) argues that evolutionary epistemology is self-defeating because reason is not known to be reliable under an evolutionary hypothesis, then to be consistent she must stipulate that ID-based epistemology is self-defeating for the same reason.

    5. In both cases she would be wrong.

  47. 47
    keith s says:

    StephenB:

    Mung, with his usual perspicacity,

    Thank you for that. It made me laugh.

  48. 48
    StephenB says:

    KeithS

    1. If our cognitive systems were designed, we can’t be sure that they are reliable. They might or might not be, depending on what the designer did.

    That doesn’t follow at all. According to traditional theism, our cognitive systems were designed such that we can know they are reliable. The knower was created to know the thing that is known and the thing that is known was created to be knowable. That is correspondence. You are assuming (and claiming) that this model cannot possibly be true, but you have no grounds for making that claim.

    2. If our cognitive systems evolved, we also can’t be sure that they are reliable.

    If our cognitive systems evolved, we can’t be sure that they are reliable. Evolution has no way of bringing the knower in harmony with the thing known. Only a designer can do that.

    3. In either case, the best we can do is to examine our cognitive systems from the inside, testing them for consistency and for correspondence to observations.

    If our cognitive capacities were not reliable, we could not use them to “test” anything.

    On the contrary, we can know that our minds are in correspondence with reality by observing that our internal logic corresponds reliably to the order of the real world.

    A Internal–if it rains, the streets will get wet.
    B External–when it rains, the streets get wet.

    A corresponds with B and we know that it corresponds. Otherwise, we could not make the distinction between a valid argument and a sound argument? Do you know the difference? It appears that you do not.

    4. If Pearcey (and Plantingua/Lewis/Reppert) argues that evolutionary epistemology is self-defeating because reason is not known to be reliable under an evolutionary hypothesis, then to be consistent she must stipulate that ID-based epistemology is self-defeating for the same reason.

    Repeating your claim doesn’t make it true. As I have made clear, your claim is false.

  49. 49
    RD Miksa says:

    Although BornAgain77 already articulated the main thrust of the argument below, as it is relevant to this discussion, I just thought that I would post an argument that I thought of a few years ago after reading Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism. In essence, my argument is meant to show that evolution always provides us with a defeater for naturalism. Anyway, here it is:

    The Evolutionary Defeater of Naturalism Argument (the quick and dirty version):

    1. If evolution is unguided, then the “truth-tracking” reliability of the cognitive faculties within the human beings that this unguided evolutionary process have produced will be (essentially) either low, inscrutable, or high (or various permutations thereof).

    2. But if the reliability of the cognitive faculties within the human beings that this unguided evolutionary process have produced are either low or inscrutable, then human beings have a defeater for any belief produced by those cognitive faculties, including the belief that metaphysical naturalism is true (or rational to believe).

    3. But if the reliability of the cognitive faculties within the human beings that this unguided evolutionary process have produced is high, then human beings have good grounds to believe in the truth of any belief produced by those cognitive faculties.

    4. Yet the cognitive faculties within the human beings that this unguided evolutionary process have produced almost universally produce the belief in human beings that naturalism is false (both now and for all of past human history), and thus if the reliability of the cognitive faculties within the human beings that this unguided evolutionary process have produced is high, then human being have good grounds to believe that naturalism is false.

    5. Therefore, regardless of whether the reliability of the cognitive faculties within the human beings that this unguided evolutionary process have produced is low, inscrutable, or high, it is still the case that human beings have good grounds to believe that naturalism is false.

    6. Therefore, regardless of whether the reliability of the cognitive faculties within the human beings that this unguided evolutionary process have produced is low, inscrutable, or high, it is the case that the evolutionary process creates a defeater for naturalism.

    7. And if the opponent of this argument wishes to deny that evolution is unguided, then this fact causes its own problems for the naturalistic worldview.

    8. Furthermore, if the opponent of this argument wishes to argue that the reliability of the cognitive faculties within the human beings that this unguided evolutionary process have produced is high, and yet that in the case of the nearly universal belief that ‘naturalism is false’ these cognitive faculties have somehow erred, then the burden of proof is on him to give us some non-question-begging reason to think that this is the case. And remember: extraordinary claims—like this one is—require extraordinary evidence.

  50. 50
    PeterJ says:

    Science, the only trustworthy authority, has figured out what causes ‘belief’.

    John Cleese explains everything in the video provided 😉

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M-vnmejwXo

  51. 51
    RD Miksa says:

    Oh, and as an aside to my last comment, I should also note that evolution offers us a pragmatic reason to reject naturalism. Indeed, this pragmatic argument is meant to show that if evolution is true, then not only is believing in theism and the supernatural fully permissible, but it may actually be the most rational belief to have given the belief that evolution is a fact. So here is the argument:

    Premise 1: Unguided evolution is a fact (a premise the naturalist will not reject).

    Premise 2: If unguided evolution is a fact, then, objectively, my only purpose in life is to survive, reproduce, and spread my genes to the maximal extent (this premise is taken, essentially, from the lips of Richard Dawkins).

    Premise 3: Belief in God and the supernatural brings about the most health, happiness, and fecundity (after all, orthodox believers are much more fruitful than secular atheists).

    Premise 4: Being healthier, happier, and more fecund increases my ability to survive, reproduce, and spread genes.

    Conclusion: Therefore, given Premise 2, I should believe in God and the supernatural rather than not.

    And note that even if there were sound arguments against God’s existence, it would not matter to this pragmatic argument, for, given our status as evolutionary organisms striving to survive and reproduce maximally, truth is less critical than believing that which would help us survive and reproduce.

    So the funny thing is that this sort of a pragmatic argument puts naturalists in a bit of a bind: if they believe that naturalism is true, then they very likely hold that we have no objective duty to pursue and believe truth. And yet such naturalists also likely hold that evolution is true. But if they hold that evolution is true and that we have no objective duty to believe truth, then they should have little objection to theistic belief, given that theistic belief makes sense given our status and drives as evolutionary organisms.

  52. 52
    keith s says:

    RD Miksa #49,

    Plantinga’s EAAN, if valid, would undermine itself as surely as Pearcey’s argument does.

    See my comment #46.

  53. 53
    keith s says:

    keith s:

    If our cognitive systems were designed, we can’t be sure that they are reliable. They might or might not be, depending on what the designer did.

    StephenB:

    That doesn’t follow at all. According to traditional theism, our cognitive systems were designed such that we can know they are reliable.

    So? Your own theism is not the only possible theism, and ID is supposedly not committed to any particular set of religious beliefs. Didn’t you get the memo?

    My statement is correct:

    If our cognitive systems were designed, we can’t be sure that they are reliable. They might or might not be, depending on what the designer did.

    StephenB:

    If our cognitive systems evolved, we can’t be sure that they are reliable.

    Right. And if they were designed, we also can’t be sure that they are reliable. That’s why the Plantinga/Lewis/Reppert/Pearcey argument would be self-defeating — if it were valid in the first place.

    If our cognitive capacities were not reliable, we could not use them to “test” anything.

    Sure we could. It’s just that we couldn’t be certain that the test was reliable.

    On the contrary, we can know that our minds are in correspondence with reality by observing that our internal logic corresponds reliably to the order of the real world.

    To the extent that is possible under an ID-based epistemology, it is also possible under an evolutionary epistemology. We’re in the same boat.

  54. 54
    bornagain77 says:

    Nice summation RD Miska. As usual atheism defeats itself no matter which way it turns. 🙂

  55. 55
    bornagain77 says:

    Of semi related note:

    Dr. Paul Giem has a new lecture video up:

    Bayes’ Theorem and Atheism 3-14-2015 by Paul Giem
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QW3IGBJi05A

  56. 56
    RD Miksa says:

    Note: Apologies in advance for spelling mistakes; I did not have time to proof-read this post.

    Keith S,

    You said:

    Plantinga’s EAAN, if valid, would undermine itself as surely as Pearcey’s argument does.

    Absolutely false concerning both Plantinga and Pearcey. And here is why…

    First, the proponent of Plantinga’s EAAN or Pearcey’s argument point out that we all act as if and believe that we have reliable cognitive faculties (that which deals with all thinking, reasoning, interpretation of sensory data, etc.) that provide us with mostly true beliefs about the world; in fact, we could not function in daily life without acting in such a way. In essence, we all have a universal presupposition that this is the case.

    Second, the proponent of this type of argument wonders: What worldview would actually support rather than undermine the above universal and unavoidable presupposition?

    Third, the naturalistic worldview is examined in relation to this question. It is noticed that the naturalistic worldview, in terms of practical necessity, requires the acceptance that unguided evolution occurred and is a fact. It is also noticed that, as a matter of fact, on naturalism, that what is important to the unguided evolutionary process is behaviour that aids in survival and reproduction, not the possession of true beliefs (and this is even assuming that on naturalism beliefs are actually effected by and can cause behaviour…an assumption that is not a given). Thus, on such a worldview, what is important are cognitive faculties that take actions and behave in a way that promotes survival and reproduction regardless of whether or not these cognitive faculties are reliable in generating true beliefs about the world. Then, to that fact, the following facts are added: 1) it is the case that there exist a vast amount more false-but-survival-enhancing beliefs than true-but-survival enhancing beliefs for any given situation, and 2) it is the case that certain false beliefs are even more survival enhancing than true beliefs (for example, an ugly and awkward nerd who nevertheless falsely believes that he is a hunk and approaches endless women will reproduce much more than an ugly nerd who knows he is really ugly and for that reason stays at home and never speaks to woman), and 3) even if reliable cognitive faculties are required for basic survival and reproduce type behaviours, there is no necessary or logical connection that makes it the case that such cognitive faculties, on naturalism, would also be reliable when assessing scientific evidence, metaphysical beliefs, or any non-survival-related higher intellectual functions.

    Fourth, given all the above facts, on naturalism and evolution, we see that we now have good reasons to view the reliability of our cognitive faculties as inscrutable, for given that it is just as likely that we could have survived and reproduced with unreliable cognitive faculties as it would be with reliable cognitive faculties, we thus have no way of knowing if our cognitive faculties are reliable or not. But in such a situation, the only rational response is to be agnostic about any belief delivered to us by those cognitive faculties, for we have no way of knowing that which of the beliefs are true and which are not. This means we must be agnostic about the truth of naturalism and evolution and every other belief that we have. So the combination of naturalism and unguided evolution gives us a reason to doubt the truth of essentially every belief that we have.

    Fifth, note that the above conclusion holds regardless of whether unguided evolution actually did give us reliable cognitive faculties or not. Why? Because even if the unguided evolutionary process produced reliable cognitive faculties in us, our assessment that we have no justifiable grounds to believe that this is the case on naturalism and evolution is what leads us to doubt the truth of essentially every belief that we have. This is in much the same way that even though an accused person may actually be innocent in reality, if the evidence against him is overwhelming, we should believe that he is guilty. Or, for a different example, if I have good reasons to believe that I am in ‘the Matrix’, then I should doubt the truth of everything that I sense and see, and this would be a rational course of action even if, unbeknownst to me, I actually was not in the Matrix. So the fact is that the naturalist cannot simply claim that the evolutionary process did produce reliable cognitive faculties in us, because even if it did, we would still have good reasons to doubt that it did.

    So, as demonstrated above, the combination of naturalism and evolution undermines itself. If we start with the idea that naturalism and evolution are true, the logical outcome of that combination of views will lead us to doubt every belief that we have, including belief in naturalism and evolution.

    But now, what makes an ID / theistic worldview different?

    Consider that on certain forms of theism—such as Christian theism—God is omnipotent, omniscience, and omnibenevolent; he is also our creator and the creator of everything in existence. Furthermore, on such a theism, God wants us to come to know of his existence and his nature through what has been made. Next, knowing God and making a free but informed decision whether or not to want to be with God is the most important thing that a human being can do in this life, and this is what God wants us to do. Furthermore, on such a view, God cannot lie or do evil to achieve his ends. Additionally, God will punish our sin, but he is just in his punishment and does not want us to sin.

    Now, I could add some other factors, but you hopefully get the point. And the point is this: on such a theistic view, it would be guaranteed that our cognitive faculties are reliable to a very high degree. Why? Because 1) to come to know God through what has been made, and 2) to know his nature through what has been made, and 3) to make a free and informed choice about whether to be with God or not all requires senses and cognitive faculties that are highly reliable in thinking, assessing evidence, making decisions, and so on. And this would be true for mundane beliefs as well as philosophical ones. Furthermore, do make choices about good and evil would require cognitive faculties that are reliable in assessing moral choices, making decisions, and so on. Finally, since God cannot be deceitful, and since he wants us to freely decide whether or not to be with him, he cannot, by nature, deceive our cognitive faculties to make them achieve his ends.

    So again, on such a robust theistic worldview, the general reliability of our cognitive faculties would be guaranteed (even if God used an evolutionary process for creating us). By contrast, on naturalism, there is no such guarantee whatsoever, which is the critical difference. And thus, a theistic worldview supports our initial presupposition that our cognitive faculties are reliable whereas naturalism does not.

    And while you are right that some forms of ID—say a type of deism where god created the world but then left the evolutionary process alone (essentially, indistinguishable from naturalism)—would have the same problem as naturalism does in terms of this argument, your correctness about this point is a pyrrhic victory at best, for all that it has done is show that the only rational way to hold the presupposition that we all do and must hold to live—namely, that our cognitive faculties are reliable—is to believe that a robust theistic worldview (something like Christian theism) is true. So far from your point being a “you too” fallacy, it actually supports the theistic position even more by showing that not just any type of ID / theism will do to support our universal presupposition that out cognitive faculties are reliable, for only something like Christian theism will do the trick!

  57. 57
    StephenB says:

    KeithS

    So? Your own theism is not the only possible theism, and ID is supposedly not committed to any particular set of religious beliefs. Didn’t you get the memo?

    You are not following the argument. Traditional theism, which is one of many possible variations of theism, is consistent with ID methodology. That doesn’t mean that ID methodology is committed to that particular variation. To be consistent with Christian theism, for example, is not to be committed to Christian theism. Do you understand the difference?

    My statement is correct:

    If our cognitive systems were designed, we can’t be sure that they are reliable. They might or might not be, depending on what the designer did.

    I have already refuted that claim. The Creator can design our cognitive capacities such that we can be sure they are reliable. Again, you are assuming that this is not possible, but you have no grounds for assuming that.

    SB: If our cognitive capacities were not reliable, we could not use them to “test” anything.

    Sure we could.

    No. we couldn’t.

    It’s just that we couldn’t be certain that the test was reliable.

    If our cognitive capacities are unreliable as a means of testing, then any conclusion we draw from them is also unreliable. If, for example, the law of contradiction–our most important mental tool for testing–is unreliable, then our logic is unreliable and all of our conclusions are unreliable.

    SB: We can know that our minds are in correspondence with reality by observing that our internal logic corresponds reliably to the order of the real world.

    To the extent that is possible under an ID-based epistemology, it is also possible under an evolutionary epistemology. We’re in the same boat.

    I have refuted that claim as well. Darwinist epistemology cannot harmonize the knower with the thing that is known. Also, you are confusing two arguments. I am not now arguing that an ID based epistemology could produce the assurance of reliable knowledge. That point has already been made.

    I am now showing that our knowledge is, in fact, reliable. By virtue of our own experience, we know that our mental logic is in correspondence with the logical order of the real world:

    A Internal logic–-if it rains, then the streets will get wet.

    B External order–-when it rains, the streets always get wet.

    [A] corresponds with [B] and we know that it corresponds. Do you have any doubts about that correspondence?

    If they did not correspond, we could not make the distinction between a valid argument and a sound argument? I ask again: Do you know the difference between a valid argument and a sound argument? It appears that you do not.

  58. 58
    StephenB says:

    RDMiksa

    .. on such a theistic view, it would be guaranteed that our cognitive faculties are reliable to a very high degree. Why? Because 1) to come to know God through what has been made, and 2) to know his nature through what has been made, and 3) to make a free and informed choice about whether to be with God or not all requires senses and cognitive faculties that are highly reliable in thinking, assessing evidence, making decisions, and so on. And this would be true for mundane beliefs as well as philosophical ones. Furthermore, do make choices about good and evil would require cognitive faculties that are reliable in assessing moral choices, making decisions, and so on. Finally, since God cannot be deceitful, and since he wants us to freely decide whether or not to be with him, he cannot, by nature, deceive our cognitive faculties to make them achieve his ends.

    Right. If the Creator did not provide creatures with the ability to know–and the ability to know that they know–it would not make sense to hold them accountable for understanding the difference between truth and error or for making moral choices that would ultimately affect their eternal destiny.

  59. 59

    RD Miksa

    Then, to that fact, the following facts are added: 1) it is the case that there exist a vast amount more false-but-survival-enhancing beliefs than true-but-survival enhancing beliefs for any given situation…

    The only possible basis I can see for this claim would be to argue that there are vastly more false propositions than true propositions generally, regardless of significance for survival and reproduction.

    Yet even were it true, in terms of absolute numbers, that for any given situation there are more false beliefs that are survival enhancing than there are true beliefs that are survival enhancing, it still may be strongly adaptive to form true beliefs.

    For example, suppose that for any given situation there are a million false beliefs, and a thousand true beliefs. Suppose also that 10,000 of those false beliefs are survival enhancing while just 200 of true beliefs are survival enhancing. Survival enhancing false beliefs therefore outnumber survival enhancing true beliefs by 50 to 1 in absolute terms.

    It would nevertheless be much more adaptive to form true beliefs than false beliefs, because the odds of a true belief enhancing survival is 20%, while the odds of a false belief enhancing survival is just 1%. That would provide strong selective pressure to develop cognitive faculties that tend to form true beliefs – even accepting that in absolute terms there are more survival enhancing false beliefs than survival enhancing true beliefs.

    So for your reasoning to work, you have to postulate not that there are more survival enhancing false beliefs than survival enhancing true beliefs, but that an equal or greater percentage of false beliefs are survival enhancing than the percentage of true beliefs that are survival enhancing.

    Which is preposterous on it’s face.

  60. 60
    RD Miksa says:

    Please Note: This is my last post in this thread, but it is in response to RB’s (and others) implied claim that it would be preposterous to believe that false beliefs could be as survival enhancing as true ones. Furthermore, this post is an excerpt from a writing project that I am currently working on, so it is still in draft-form. Therefore, I apologize in advance for any errors or mistakes in the text. Finally, please note that my response is very long (over five thousand words), so only read it if you are truly interested in this subject (but also note that it is only a partial response, as the full response is over 20,000 words at this point).

    Now, to reiterate a critical point, we must remember that the evolutionary process is primarily and ultimately concerned with an organism’s survival as determined by its behavior and actions, not with whether the organism is in possession of true beliefs or not (or any beliefs, for that matter). Essentially, if an organism full of false beliefs nevertheless acts in a way that helps it survive and thrive, it will be evolutionarily successful. Furthermore, since survival-enhancing behaviors in no way necessarily require an organism to be in possession of true beliefs, and since, additionally, the potential number of false and yet still survival-enhancing beliefs vastly outweigh the number of actually true but survival-enhancing beliefs, then this means that if evolution is true and atheistic-naturalism is true, and even if an organism’s beliefs actually do causally effect its behavior, it is nevertheless the case that this combination of factors generates good grounds to believe that an evolutionary organism could survive and thrive, and yet do so even with unreliable cognitive faculties that produce a majority of false beliefs in that organism. As such, the survival of an evolutionary organism is compatible with any range of reliability of cognitive faculties within that organism, which means that the fact that an organism has been evolutionarily successful cannot serve as evidence in favor of claiming that that organism’s cognitive faculties are reliable. And this, in turn, means that even if an organism’s beliefs actually cause their behavior in a real way, and even if an organism has survived the evolutionary struggle, these facts in no way provide any reason to support the contention that the organism has reliable cognitive faculties, for given that false beliefs could be just as survival-promoting as true ones, such an organism could have both survived and had behavior-causing-beliefs all while having utterly unreliable cognitive faculties. But the situation is even worse for the atheistic-naturalist. Why? Because, as mentioned, a strong case can be made to show that the number of false-yet-survival-promoting beliefs vastly outnumber the amount of true-yet-survival-promoting beliefs. This means that if an organism had unreliable cognitive faculties and yet could nevertheless still survive and thrive as an evolutionary organism even if its cognitive faculties routinely reasoned poorly and delivered false beliefs, then, given that in any situation there would exist vastly more false-yet-survival-promoting beliefs that the organism could believe rather than believing the one true belief for that situation, it would, due to the sheer numbers involved, very likely be the case that the organism would indeed believe one of these false beliefs rather than the true one. And to better understand the reasoning behind this idea, let us consider a quick and illustrative example of the point that is being made here.

    Imagine that a caveman is foraging for food; suddenly, this caveman hears a growl and spins around to see himself face-to-face with a tiger that is ready to pounce. Now, in such a situation, and from a behavioral perspective, the caveman’s only chance to survive as an evolutionary organism is to run as fast as he can to avoid being caught by the tiger. This is what he must do to survive. And yet, from a belief perspective—remembering, of course, that in this scenario we are claiming that the caveman’s beliefs do cause his behavior—there is only one true belief concerning this situation that would cause the caveman to run: namely, the belief that the tiger wants to kill and eat him, and that his only chance for survival is to run as fast as he can away from the tiger. However, while there is only one true behavior-causing-belief in this situation that will make the caveman act in a way that will ensure his survival, there are a large number of false beliefs that the caveman could have that would nevertheless get him to act in the right way. For example, maybe the caveman believes that the tiger wants to play tag, and since he (the caveman) has always wanted to beat a tiger at a game of tag, he runs away from the tiger as fast as he can in order to win the game. Or maybe the caveman believes that sexual reproduction occurs when one animal licks another, and since the tiger looks like it wants to lick the caveman, and since the caveman is absolutely disgusted at the idea of mating with a tiger, he runs for his life. Or maybe the caveman believes that the tiger is going to tickle him with its sharp claws, and since he absolutely hates being tickled, he runs for the hills. Or maybe the caveman believes that the tiger’s appearance is good omen, and being overjoyed, the caveman runs at break-neck speed to tell the rest of the village about the excellent news. Or maybe the caveman believes that the tiger wants to be his pet, but since the caveman has enough animals at home, and since the caveman also believes that if he does not outrun the tiger than the tiger will follow him home, the caveman thus outruns the tiger so that the tiger will not follow him and become his pet. Or maybe the caveman believes that the tiger is not about to eat him, but that the tiger is actually an advanced sentient alien trying to communicate with the caveman, but since the caveman is scared to death of advanced alien species, he runs away. Or maybe the caveman believes that the tiger has fleas, and since the caveman does not want to get fleas (again), he runs from the tiger as fast as he can. Or maybe the caveman believes that the tiger is actually a special type of harmless herbivore, but he also believes that every time a tiger is seen, a special ritual must immediately be completed, and this ritual just happens to consist of running as fast as possible in some direction or other away from the tiger. And so on, and so forth. Now all of these examples seem silly, but the whole point is to show that there are vastly more false and even silly behavior-causing-beliefs that the caveman could possess which would nevertheless still get him to run from the tiger; but there is only one true behavior-causing-beliefs that would get him to do the same. And this thus shows that even if our beliefs cause our behavior, the fact that, in any given situation, false beliefs that still cause survival-promoting behavior vastly outweigh true beliefs that do the same, means that we would have good reason to expect that evolutionary organisms that actually had beliefs likely possessed more false ones than true ones, and thus that their cognitive faculties were quite unreliable. After all, the only way that the evolutionary process could force an organism to have true beliefs rather than false ones, and thus the only way the evolutionary process could force an organism to have reliable cognitive faculties rather than unreliable ones, is if there is some evolutionary price to having false beliefs rather than true ones. But if there is no such price—and the above example helps to show that there need not be—and if there are many more false beliefs to choose from rather than true ones, then it would be neither surprising nor shocking if, more often than not, one of the false beliefs was adopted and accepted rather that the true one. And even if the latter conclusion seems too strong, then, at minimum, the above facts would definitely provide solid grounds to see the reliability of an evolutionary organism’s cognitive faculties as at least being inscrutable, for if evolutionary organisms could have survived and thrived even though filled with false behavior-causing-beliefs rather than true ones, then they could have survived with cognitive faculties of any degree of reliability, and there would be no way to know or rationally claim that those cognitive faculties were reliable rather than not. And, indeed, we can understand this whole line of reasoning in an analogous way with students trying to pass, say, a university course on a certain subject like mathematics. If the students, in order to pass the course, had to get ninety percent or higher on all their assignments, and thus if they had to possess the right beliefs and concepts reliably in order to survive the course, then if the students did indeed survive the course, the fact that they did survive and pass the course would—in light of the ninety percent grade needed to do so—provide strong evidence that their cognitive faculties were reliable in providing them with true beliefs concerning the course material. But if, by contrast, all the students needed to do to pass the course was to hand in (a behavior) their assignments with some mathematics-like writing on them, and thus the students did not have to even know or understand the correct concepts or answers in order to pass, then in such a case, the fact that the students survived and passed the course would provide absolutely no rational grounds to claim that the students’ cognitive faculties were reliable in reference to giving them true answers for the course. In fact, given that for each question the number of false-but-math-like answers would vastly outnumber the actually true answer, and given that, as mentioned, there would be no penalty for choosing a false answer, then it would be both likely and expected that the students would select a wrong answer rather than the true one, and thus, at least in reference to the course material specifically, this fact would serve as evidence that the reliability of their cognitive faculties was actually low. Moreover, even if such a conclusion seems to go too far, at the very least, the fact that the students could have written any answer and still passed the course (as long as they handed in their assignments) definitely gives us the rational grounds to see the reliability of their cognitive faculties (concerning the course material) as being inscrutable, for they could have passed the course even if every single answer that they gave was wrong. And yet, as has been argued, it is precisely the second scenario that would be what would occur for an evolutionary organism when atheistic-naturalism is combined with evolution, for the evolutionary process rewards behavior, not true beliefs; and as has also been argued, false beliefs can motivate survival-enhancing behavior just as well as true beliefs can, thereby meaning that there is no clear or necessary penalty to an evolutionary organism if it possesses false beliefs rather than true ones, so long as the organism’s behavior still allows him to survive and thrive. This, therefore, is the reason that even if our behaviors are caused by our beliefs, it is still nevertheless the case that, as evolutionary organisms created by the blind evolutionary process inherent to the worldview of atheistic-naturalism, the reliability of our cognitive faculties is, at worst, low, and, at best, inscrutable.

    Now, even given the above examples and illustrations, many atheistic-naturalists (and others) assert that it is just preposterous to believe that an evolutionary organism could have a majority of false behavior-causing-beliefs and yet nevertheless survive and thrive as an evolutionary organism. Indeed, they often declare that such a claim is absurd on its face and that of course a blind and unguided evolutionary process would create evolutionary organisms with reliable cognitive faculties. But, as the previous examples hinted at, the claim that an evolutionary organism could have a majority of false beliefs and yet still survive and thrive, is not as far-fetched as is imagined, nor is it by any means absurd. After all, remember that it is behavior that ultimately counts for survival, not beliefs. If an evolutionary organism takes the right actions and moves in the right ways—to avoid predators and catch prey, for example—it will be an evolutionary organism that survives and thrives, regardless of what its beliefs are. And note further that for an evolutionary organism survival, ultimately, comes down five main behaviors: feeding, fighting, fleeing, resting, and reproducing. Now, with these five key behaviors in mind, let us consider a more detailed scenario which illustrates just how easy it would be for an organism to have a plethora of false behavior-causing-beliefs and yet nevertheless survive and thrive as an evolutionary organism.

    Imagine Grog. Grog is a proto-human caveman. Grog is also a being who has beliefs which cause and affect his behavior. And Grog lives in an evolutionary environment where he is trying to survive and thrive. So let us now consider some of Grog’s behavior-causing-beliefs in order to see whether or not it is plausible to hold that Grog could indeed have a majority of false beliefs and yet nevertheless still move and act in the right way in order to survive. And, in fact, this can be easily shown.

    For example, consider the survival skills of fighting and fleeing. When Grog sees a predator, Grog sees that the predator has sharp teeth and sharp claws. Grog, however, does not believe that the predator is a ferocious animal that is trying to eat him, nor does Grog believe that the sharp teeth and claws belonging to the predator can hurt him; rather, Grog falsely believes that all predatory animals with sharp teeth and claws are actually very playful and harmless animals, but Grog also falsely believes that the sharp teeth and claws combined with the playfulness of these animals means that they will try to tickle Grog whenever they catch him, and that their sharp teeth and claws will be particularly good at tickling. And since Grog absolutely hates to be tickled, Grog thus always either runs away from every predator that he sees or tries to scare it off, but not because Grog thinks that the predator itself is dangerous, but rather because he hates to be tickled. Or maybe Grog believes that all animals with sharp teeth and claws have lice, and since Grog hates catching lice, he always flees from such animals. Or maybe—and as mentioned in an earlier example—Grog believes that sexual mating occurs by licking and wrestling other animals, and since the predators look like they want to lick and wrestle with Grog, and since he is absolutely disgusted by the idea that these animals might try to mate with him, he runs for the hills. Now all of Grog’s beliefs concerning predators are quite mistaken, and yet Grog’s body still moves and reacts properly each and every time that it sees a predator—namely, by either fleeing or trying to fight the predator off—thus meaning that while Grog’s beliefs in this matter are clearly wrong, his body nevertheless acts in a way that is survival promoting even though its actions are caused by these false beliefs.

    Next, consider feeding and cleanliness. When Grog sees some deer or other herbivores that are not a danger to him but are actually a source of food, Grog falsely believes that these animals are dangerous predators out to harm him and his family. But Grog absolutely hates these animals and wants to exterminate as many of them as possible in order to protect his family. Furthermore, Grog falsely believes that he is faster, stronger, and better than these animals. As such, on a daily basis, Grog uses all his skills to hunt these animals which he falsely believes to be predators. And when he hunts them, Grog falsely believes that he must first pierce them in the chest with his spear and then, the moment that he sees a great deal of red liquid come out of the animal, Grog believes that he must dance fiercely, for Grog falsely believes that it is his ferocious dance, at the sight of the red liquid, that kills the animal, not the spear to the chest. Then, after killing the animal, Grog eats the animal and has his family eat it as well, but not because he believes that eating the animal will give him nourishment, but rather because he believes, again falsely, that eating this animal—which he takes to be a predator—will grant him the specific speed and agility of the animal itself, and it will also help to conceal him from similar animals the next time that he hunts. At the same time, perhaps Grog eats a number of flying insects and grubs, not because he thinks that they will nourish him, but rather because he falsely believes that if he eats enough flying insects in one day, he too will gain the ability to fly. And while Grog never seems to eat enough of these flying insects to gain the ability to fly, he does not stop trying, and thus he inadvertently gains a great deal of nutrition by engaging in this behavior that was caused by a completely false belief. And maybe Grog also falsely believes that bathing is the way to actually hydrate himself, because he falsely believes that his skin drinks the water, and so Grog baths every day, thus maintaining his cleanliness, and thereby enhancing his survival through better sanitary habits, all through his false belief. But at the same time, perhaps Grog also believes that if he drinks enough water then he will gain the powers and ability of a fish, and so Grog drinks a lot of water, thereby hydrating himself, but doing so because of a false belief that caused this behavior. So once again, Grog’s beliefs can be quite out of sync with reality, and yet they nevertheless still make him take the appropriate behaviors necessary to survive and thrive as an evolutionary organism.

    Next, note that concerning reproduction, Grog in no way believes that engaging in what we would call sexual intercourse is the way to reproduce. Rather, Grog falsely believes that if he, say, licks and wrestles with his partner that that is the way that reproduction happens, and so Grog engages in these behaviors daily. However, at the same time, Grog also believes, again falsely, that as an adult, the way that adults nourish themselves is to engage in what we would call sexual intercourse with their partner, and he believes that the “nourishment” is ingested through the sexual organs. As such, and in order to stay full, Grog thus engages in sexual intercourse at least three times a day, thereby falsely believing that, through an exchange of fluids, he is feeding his partner and she is feeding him. And, in terms of rest, perhaps Grog has no time for sleep and hates to sleep, and he would force himself to stay up and do things for as long as possible if he could, but Grog falsely believes that when he sleeps, he sometimes receives instructions and tips from his spirit animals and his dead ancestors. As such, and even though he hates to sleep, Grog always sleeps a solid seven hours a night in order to ensure that he never misses a potential message from his spirit guides, and this sleep is always in a safe place so as to ensure that the message he is receiving is not distorted due to him having to wake up to deal with some problem. Consequently, Grog is always properly rested and has slept, even though he would never do so if it was not for his false belief. And so, once again, we can see that Grog could have beliefs quite opposed to reality, and yet those false beliefs would still have him engaging in all the behaviors which would ensure his survival and would also ensure that his genes were spread to future generations. Indeed, if we look at these examples, we can see how Grog has false behavior-causing-beliefs in every major domain necessary to survival as an evolutionary organism—namely, feeding, fighting, fleeing, reproducing, and resting—and yet Grog’s body nevertheless still moves, acts, and behaves in all the ways that he needs to in order to survive and thrive in his evolutionary environment. And these examples could be readily multiplied. So this illustrates how and why false behavior-causing-beliefs could be just as good as true behavior-causing-beliefs at ensuring the survival of an evolutionary organism like Grog.

    In fact, one point that should not be overlooked is that in certain cases, false beliefs might actually be more survival enhancing than true beliefs. For example, let us say that Grog is the ugliest and weakest male member of his tribe. As such, Grog would normally not even be given a female in marriage, thus depriving him of the chance to copulate and spread his genes, a task which every evolutionary organism needs to do if it is to be successful from an evolutionary perspective. Grog, however, falsely believes that he is actually the strongest and best-looking member of his tribe, and he falsely believes that he only loses physical contests due to bad luck or due to circumstances completely outside of his control. Thus, thinking himself so strong and good-looking, Grog is substantially more arrogant and forward than he has a right to be. He actively pursues females. His perseverance is then seen as a desirable trait and Grog is thus given a female partner of a much higher quality than he ever would have received had he not persisted in his false and delusional belief about his strength and attractiveness.

    Indeed, the above type of false belief, which is a form of denial of reality, is often highly positive from a perspective of psychological and emotional well-being, which would thus make it a positive from a survival perspective. Denial is, after all, a well-known psychological defensive mechanism, and denying something, for some people, is a much easier psychological strategy than confrontation with it or the acceptance of it. And since psychological well-being is critical to survival—after all, a severely depressed and/or anxiety/panic-prone person is likely not that helpful on a hunt or that active at reproducing in comparison to a psychologically health individual—than the potential evolutionary benefits to denial are indeed real and existent. For example—and to use some more modern illustrations rather than Grog—imagine the mother who simply cannot admit that her son is a horrendous murderer even though all the evidence points to him being just such a person; her denial of the obvious facts, and thus her false belief that her son is innocent, is what protects her psychological well-being and allows her to carry on with life, thus promoting her survival via the promotion of her psychological and emotional well-being. Or, once again, imagine a man who is not all that impressive or capable with the opposite sex, and yet he has been able to land himself with a fairly high-status and capable wife. This wife produces a large number of offspring for the man which are his own. However, over time, evidence starts to accumulate which clearly shows that the wife is cheating on the man. All his friends see it and everyone who knows the situation realizes that it is indeed beyond a reasonable doubt that the wife is cheating on the man. The man, however, denies this, and he maintains his denial no matter what the evidence states. And yet, from an evolutionary perspective, this denial is highly beneficial. Why? Because if the man admitted his wife’s cheating ways to himself, he might become depressed, unable to cope with his situation, or become so psychologically distraught that he would ruin his family life and thus seriously harm his offspring. However, by maintaining his denial, the man stays psychologically healthy, maintains his familial situation, ensures a stable family life for his offspring, and still sleeps with his wife and produces more offspring with her, all of which are things that are beneficial from an evolutionary perspective and yet which are also all things that the man may very well not have done had he not denied the evidence of his wife’s infidelity. And such situations could be multiplied, thus showing that there could indeed be an evolutionary benefit to the psychological defensive mechanism of denial. And this, in turn, means that in some circumstances, there is actually a positive evolutionary benefit to having false beliefs over true ones.

    Furthermore, we can also consider some other bizarre but nevertheless instructive illustrations that demonstrate that, at times, false beliefs might be more survival-enhancing than true ones. For example—and returning to Grog for the moment—perhaps Grog falsely believes that whenever his feet enter murky, alligator-infested waters, they immediately transform into flippers, but they transform back into normal feet the moment that they are out of the murky water. Nevertheless, having this false belief gives Grog extreme confidence in terms of his swimming ability, and as such, whenever Grog enters murky waters, not only does he always swim faster and kick harder than he would if he did not have this false belief, but he actually swims harder and faster than any of his peers who do not have this false belief. This thus means that Grog’s possession of this false behavior-causing-belief not only in no way impedes his survival chances, but that it actually increases his survival chances when compared to how he would act if he possessed the true behavior-causing-belief. So not only would Grog’s false belief promote his survival as well as the true belief would, but it actually would be better at promoting Grog’s survival than the true belief would be. Or, for another example, consider that perhaps Grog falsely believes that when he goes on a hunt, and when his wife and children disappear from his visual field, they literally disappear, and Grog also falsely believes that they will only reappear when he returns from his hunt. While this is without a doubt a strange belief, this false belief nevertheless helps Grog to have a laser-like focus on the hunt because he is not worried about what is happening to his wife and children while he is gone. And this laser-like focus makes Grog that much more efficient at hunting and surviving through the hunt. In fact, this laser-like focus, brought on by Grog’s false belief, actually makes Grog more efficient and successful at the hunt than he would be if he actually possessed the true belief that his wife and children were still existent back at the camp, for if he had this true belief then he would be worried about his wife and children, and thus he would not have as much of a laser-like focus as he would have if he was not worried about them. So Grog’s possession of this false belief actually makes him a more efficient hunter than he otherwise would be if he possessed the true belief for this situation. Or maybe Grog does not believe that his wife and children literally disappear when he leaves for a hunt, but rather he falsely believes that when he leaves, the consciousness of his wife and his children actually departs each of them and they become nothing more than walking zombies that act human but really are not. And maybe Grog further falsely believes that unless he is successful at his hunt, his wife and children will remain walking zombies and will never really be themselves again. As such, during each hunt, Grog is utterly determined and ferocious; no matter how tired, or hungry, or hurt, Grog never returns to his village until he catches something so that he can ensure that his wife and children return to their normal state of being. And because Grog always catches something—a task, remember, which is caused by his false belief—Grog’s offspring are always well-fed and healthy, which would not be the case if Grog was not motivated by his false belief. Or, for an even more extreme example, maybe Grog falsely believes that everyone, except for himself and his wife and offspring, are actually mindless and unconscious zombies that only act human. Having this false believe means that Grog feels absolutely no emotional attachment to anyone, nor does he feel any moral obligation to anyone either—something which he would feel if he did not have this false belief. As such, Grog is cunning, merciless, and absolutely brutal in how he deals with other people. Whenever Grog assesses that he will not get caught by the mindless zombies that nevertheless act conscious, he steals, cheats, rapes and murders without a pang of remorse or guilt. Indeed, without any emotional stress or moral turmoil—two characteristics brought on by his false belief—Grog is able to use every situation as a way to advance himself and his family at the expense of others, while always being extremely careful never to get caught or harmed in doing so. Grog cooperates when he needs to and kills when he needs to, and he smiles just as easily as he stabs someone in the back. Now such a strategy would be beneficial from an evolutionary perspective, and yet this strategy is due to Grog’s false belief, and he would not use such a beneficial strategy if he did not have this false belief. So again, here is a situation where a false belief could actually be more beneficial, from an evolutionary perspective, than a true one.

    Of course, all the above examples seem strange and odd. But that, in many ways, is the point. For these examples illustrate the fact that, in many cases, it is not only easy to see how false behavior-causing-beliefs may be just as survival-promoting as true behavior-causing-beliefs, but also how, in certain cases, false beliefs may actually be more survival-promoting than true beliefs. And this would mean that, from an evolutionary perspective, it could very well be the case that organisms with such false-but-more-survival-promoting-than-true-beliefs beliefs could have an evolutionary advantage over organisms with just true beliefs; and thus the former type of organism could survive the evolutionary struggle better than the latter type, which, in turn, would mean that the former type would be ‘selected’ for over the latter type in the evolutionary struggle for existence. In essence, the evolutionary process might literally weed out those organisms with just true beliefs while ensuring that those organisms with false beliefs that are more survival-promoting than true beliefs actually survive and thrive. The blind evolutionary process, therefore, might “prefer” false beliefs to true ones.

    In the end, therefore, what all of various examples show is that the claim that an evolutionary organism could have a majority of false behavior-causing-beliefs, and yet nevertheless still survive, thrive, and create off-spring is not nearly as strange as it may initially sound. And given that the variety of scenarios articulated above could be multiplied and adapted to countless evolutionary settings and situations, it is thus by no means unwarranted to say that an evolutionary organism truly could have a major number of false beliefs guiding its behavior, but that this behavior would still be guided in a way that ensures that the organism’s actions, movements, and conduct are entirely beneficial to its existence as an evolutionary being struggling to survive and reproduce. And what all this means is that if human beings are the product of blind evolutionary forces, as would be the case given atheistic-naturalism, then, in light of this fact, we, as human beings, would thus have good grounds to doubt the reliability of our cognitive faculties, for it is very likely that our cognitive faculties, in such a situation, are producing false beliefs rather than true ones (and remember that our cognitive faculties are considered reliable if they produce in us beliefs which are, in the large majority of cases, true rather than false). Or, at the very least, we would have no way of knowing or assessing the reliability of our cognitive faculties in light of the above arguments and examples, and thus we would have to consider the reliability of our cognitive faculties as being inscrutable. But if we, as human beings, have good reasons to believe that the reliability of our cognitive faculties is either low or inscrutable, then we simultaneously have good grounds to doubt any beliefs delivered to us by those cognitive faculties, such as the belief that evolution is true, or the belief that atheistic-naturalism is true, or the belief that any scientific theory is true (or reasonable to believe).

  61. 61
    keith s says:

    RD Miksa:

    Please Note: This is my last post in this thread, but it is in response to RB’s (and others) implied claim that it would be preposterous to believe that false beliefs could be as survival enhancing as true ones.

    That isn’t what RB claimed. Here’s what he actually wrote:

    So for your reasoning to work, you have to postulate not that there are more survival enhancing false beliefs than survival enhancing true beliefs, but that an equal or greater percentage of false beliefs are survival enhancing than the percentage of true beliefs that are survival enhancing.

    Which is preposterous on it’s face.

    Why not do him the courtesy of addressing his actual argument?

  62. 62
    keith s says:

    StephenB,

    The Creator can design our cognitive capacities such that we can be sure they are reliable. Again, you are assuming that this is not possible, but you have no grounds for assuming that.

    I’m not assuming that it isn’t possible. I’m pointing out that it isn’t guaranteed, even under the ID assumption that our cognitive systems are designed.

    My statement is correct:

    If our cognitive systems were designed, we can’t be sure that they are reliable. They might or might not be, depending on what the designer did.

    The fact that your personal theistic model assumes the reliability of cognition is irrelevant unless you can demonstrate the truth of that model.

    You can’t, of course.

  63. 63
    Mark Frank says:

    The Creator can design our cognitive capacities such that we can be sure they are reliable. Again, you are assuming that this is not possible, but you have no grounds for assuming that.

    Another way of putting this might be – how could we tell the difference between

    a creator who designed our cognitive capacities such that we are sure they are reliable and they are

    and

    a creator who designed our cognitive capacities such that we are sure they are reliable and they are not? 

    There is a way. In the second case we bump against reality. But that method is equally available to us if our cognitive capacities are the result of evolution.

  64. 64
    keith s says:

    StephenB,

    If our cognitive capacities are unreliable as a means of testing, then any conclusion we draw from them is also unreliable. If, for example, the law of contradiction–our most important mental tool for testing–is unreliable, then our logic is unreliable and all of our conclusions are unreliable.

    Reread our exchange:

    StephenB:

    If our cognitive capacities were not reliable, we could not use them to “test” anything.

    keiths:

    Sure we could. It’s just that we couldn’t be certain that the test was reliable.

    Note that I am not saying that the test is unreliable. I’m saying that we can’t be certain that the test is reliable. This distinction continues to elude you.

    StephenB:

    I am now showing that our knowledge is, in fact, reliable. By virtue of our own experience, we know that our mental logic is in correspondence with the logical order of the real world.

    That doesn’t work, ironically for the very reason you just described:

    If our cognitive capacities are unreliable as a means of testing, then any conclusion we draw from them is also unreliable. If, for example, the law of contradiction–our most important mental tool for testing–is unreliable, then our logic is unreliable and all of our conclusions are unreliable.

    You can’t demonstrate the reliability of a cognitive system using the very system whose reliability is in question. Your conclusion might be wrong if the system isn’t reliable!

    The best that any of us can do is to test the reliability of our cognition from the inside, and we can never be certain that the test results are accurate.

    Note that this applies even to God, if he exists. Think about it. God might think that he’s eternal, omniscient, and omnipotent, but he can’t be certain that those thoughts aren’t based on faulty cognition.

  65. 65
    keith s says:

    RD Miksa:

    And while you are right that some forms of ID—say a type of deism where god created the world but then left the evolutionary process alone (essentially, indistinguishable from naturalism)—would have the same problem as naturalism does in terms of this argument, your correctness about this point is a pyrrhic victory at best, for all that it has done is show that the only rational way to hold the presupposition that we all do and must hold to live—namely, that our cognitive faculties are reliable—is to believe that a robust theistic worldview (something like Christian theism) is true.

    The presupposition isn’t necessary. Based on the fact that our cognition seems to be generally reliable, we can tentatively act on that assumption without committing ourselves to it.

    And even if that presupposition were necessary, it doesn’t require a “robust theistic worldview”. If you were going to (illegitmately) assume that God designed our cognitive faculties and assume that he chose to make them reliable, you could just as easily (and just as illegitimately) assume that evolution shaped our cognitive faculties and assume that it shaped them in a way that assured their reliability.

    If the logic of the EAAN were effective against naturalism, it would be just as effective against theism. In fact, it’s effective against neither.

  66. 66
    Andre says:

    Keith S

    You just don’t get it do you?

  67. 67
    Andre says:

    Mark Frank

    No matter how much you want it to be true. Consciousness does not evolve from non consciousness. For theism consciousness has an explanation. Materialism does not.

  68. 68
    bornagain77 says:

    Mark Frank, you might be interested in this video:

    Bayes’ Theorem and Atheism 3-14-2015 by Paul Giem – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QW3IGBJi05A

  69. 69
    bornagain77 says:

    Atheists hold mind itself to be an illusion. Thus, how can the cognitive faculties that are held by that illusion possibly be said to be trustworthy?:

    The Confidence of Jerry Coyne – January 2014
    Excerpt: Well and good. But then halfway through this peroration, we have as an aside the confession that yes, okay, it’s quite possible given materialist premises that “our sense of self is a neuronal illusion.” At which point the entire edifice suddenly looks terribly wobbly — because who, exactly, is doing all of this forging and shaping and purpose-creating if Jerry Coyne, as I understand him (and I assume he understands himself) quite possibly does not actually exist at all? The theme of his argument is the crucial importance of human agency under eliminative materialism, but if under materialist premises the actual agent is quite possibly a fiction, then who exactly is this I who “reads” and “learns” and “teaches,” and why in the universe’s name should my illusory self believe Coyne’s bold proclamation that his illusory self’s purposes are somehow “real” and worthy of devotion and pursuit? (Let alone that they’re morally significant: But more on that below.)
    http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.c.....&_r=0

    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

    How does the brain go beyond processing information to become subjectively aware of information? The answer is: It doesn’t. The brain has arrived at a conclusion that is not correct. When we introspect and seem to find that ghostly thing — awareness, consciousness, the way green looks or pain feels — our cognitive machinery is accessing internal models and those models are providing information that is wrong.
    Michael S. A. Graziano

    “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.”
    Francis Crick – “The Astonishing Hypothesis” 1994

    There is only one sort of stuff, namely, matter-the physical stuff of physics, chemistry, and physiology-and the mind is somehow nothing but a physical phenomenon. In short, the mind is the brain.
    Daniel Dennett

    It is simply logically insane to insist that the mind is an illusion on the one hand, and then, on the other hand, turn right around and try to argue that the cognitive faculties held by that illusory mind are somehow trustworthy.

  70. 70
    Seversky says:

    Theism can offer no better explanation for the origins of consciousness than materialism. Positing the existence of a multi-omni deity is an explanation of ‘who’ not ‘how’.

    As for our beliefs, the question is how do we find out which of our many possible beliefs are true or false, bearing in mind the simple principle that there are many more ways to be wrong than to be right.

    The only practical way is to test them against reality, which is precisely what happens in the case of evolution. If you believe a hungry tiger is really just a large house cat that wants to be cuddled and petted, the only way to test for the truth of that belief is to go up to it and try. If you’re wrong you don’t survive the experiment.

    Yes, we can imagine scenarios in which a false belief leads to behavior which enables survival in certain situations. What we are saying, however, is that the belief has survived one particular test. We can also imagine other scenarios in which it doesn’t.

    We can also envisage beliefs that have no direct effect on an individuals survival one way or the other. Think of them as neutral memes rather than neutral genes. For example, you might believe that human consciousness is a small, glowing blue sphere inside the head while a tiger’s is a smaller green sphere. Believing that to be true or false has no obvious effect one way or the other on surviving an encounter with a hungry tiger.

    It all comes back to the question of whether there is any other reliable way of learning whether or not a belief is true other than by testing it.

  71. 71
    bornagain77 says:

    as to: “It all comes back to the question of whether there is any other reliable way of learning whether or not a belief is true other than by testing it.”

    The materialist’s belief that consciousness is ’emergent’ from a material basis is found to be false:

    A Short Survey Of Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness
    Excerpt: Putting all the lines of evidence together, the argument for God from consciousness can now be framed like this:

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    Four intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities, Quantum Zeno effect)
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1uLcJUgLm1vwFyjwcbwuYP0bK6k8mXy-of990HudzduI/edit

    Leggett’s Inequality is discussed beginning at the 24:15 minute mark of the following video:

    Quantum Weirdness and God 8-9-2014 by Paul Giem – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=N7HHz14tS1c#t=1449

  72. 72

    RD Miksa,

    This is my last post in this thread, but it is in response to RB’s (and others) implied claim that it would be preposterous to believe that false beliefs could be as survival enhancing as true ones.

    I did not state (or imply) “that it would be preposterous to believe that false beliefs could be as survival enhancing as true ones.”

    In fact, in my example above I allow that there may be 50 survival enhancing false beliefs for every survival enhancing true belief.

    I did state that for your reasoning to work, you have to postulate that that an equal or greater percentage of false beliefs are survival enhancing than the percentage of true beliefs that are survival enhancing.

    Which is preposterous.

  73. 73
    StephenB says:

    KeithS

    I’m not assuming that it isn’t possible. I’m pointing out that it isn’t guaranteed, even under the ID assumption that our cognitive systems are designed.

    You are assuming that it isn’t possible for the Creator to design our cognitive capacities such that we have assurance of their reliability. Indeed, you also claim that even the Creator cannot be certain about the reliability of His own cognition. You have no warrant for making these assumptions.

    The fact that your personal theistic model assumes the reliability of cognition is irrelevant unless you can demonstrate the truth of that model.

    It is totally relevant. We are comparing two models. Darwinism, for which reliability is not assured, and one ID model, for which it is. Accordingly, there are two issues on the table:

    [a] Is it logically possible for the Creator to design cognition such that we can be certain of its reliability?

    [b] Can we, in fact, demonstrate the reliability of our own cognition?

    The answer to both questions is yes.

    You can’t, of course

    I have demonstrated the reliability of our cognitive capacity with a concrete example of the correspondence between our internal logic and the logical order of the real world. You choose not to address the concrete example. You also choose not to answer my question about the difference between a valid argument and a sound argument.

    Note that this applies even to God, if he exists. Think about it. God might think that he’s eternal, omniscient, and omnipotent, but he can’t be certain that those thoughts aren’t based on faulty cognition.

    That would be a contradiction. If God is omnipotent and omniscient, then he can’t have faulty cognition or be uncertain about its reliability.

  74. 74

    StephenB:

    [a] Is it logically possible for the Creator to design cognition such that we can be certain of its reliability?

    Not to intrude, but all KeithS needs is for it to be logically possible for the Creator to have endowed us with cognition the reliability of which is not certain.

    Were that granted, then his argument succeeds, as even under theism it is possible that our cognition is not reliable.

    So, is it your claim that it is not logically possible for your creator to have endowed us cognition of unknown reliability?

  75. 75
    Timaeus says:

    Aurelio Smith:

    You mischaracterized my position at:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....of-design/

    I corrected you in post #61. I have yet to see anything like a retraction or modification of your characterization, there or anywhere else.

  76. 76
    StephenB says:

    Reciprocating Bill

    So, is it your claim that it is not logically possible for your creator to have endowed us cognition of unknown reliability?

    No, I grant that possibility. However, it does not influence the outcome.

    Were that granted, then his argument succeeds, as even under theism it is possible that our cognition is not reliable.

    Keith’s argument does not succeed on those grounds. Here is why:

    If the Creator designs the cognitive faculty for assurance of reliability, then assurance is guaranteed under that model. Under those circumstances, we, as creatures, will be assured of the reliability because we were designed that way. The existence of other possible models will not affect our certitude because, under that model, we do not have to take other models into account in order to have that experience.

    That there are other possible theistic models simply means that we might not have had that assurance. It does not mean that we cannot or do not have that assurance. Indeed, the very fact that we recognize the possibility of other models shows that our reasoning model is reliable. If it wasn’t reliable, we could not be sure that the other models are different. Yet we are. We are assured that they are different.

  77. 77
    Seversky says:

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.

    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.

    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    If experiments that observe quantum phenomena can be run fully-automated, with no human observer present at all, and yet produce the same results as those where a human observer is present, then your argument collapses like a wave-function.

  78. 78
    Timaeus says:

    Aurelio Smith:

    First of all, whether I am right or wrong about this or that point regarding evolution, one thing I am an authority on is my own view. I know what I stand for, what I believe. Your post mischaracterized what I believe. You said that I rejected the scientific evidence for common descent. I informed you that I did not. You should have the decency to retract.

    The “mish-mash of conceptions” that you refer to is your own, not mine. I am capable, as you apparently are not, of distinguishing between the fact of evolution and the mechanisms of evolution. If you had even an elementary grasp of evolutionary theory, you would understand that my criticism pertained to the alleged mechanism, not to the fact.

    Like so many others here, you appear to conflate ID with creationism. And no number of repeated clarifications seems to get through the thick skulls of people who are guilty of this conflation. Whether it is that they can’t comprehend written English, or whether they don’t know enough basic epistemology, or whether they are just determined to be unfair in argument, is hard to tell.

  79. 79
    keith s says:

    StephenB #80,

    1. In your theistic model, cognition is reliable.
    2. In other models, cognition is not reliable.
    3. You don’t know which model is true.
    4. Therefore, you don’t know whether cognition is reliable.

  80. 80
    StephenB says:

    KeithS

    StephenB #80,

    1. In your theistic model, cognition is reliable.
    2. In other models, cognition is not reliable.
    3. You don’t know which model is true.
    4. Therefore, you don’t know whether cognition is reliable.

    I appreciate the conciseness of your formulation.

    1. Check

    2. Check

    3. No. If the theistic model applies to me, then I do know that it is true because I have been endowed with reliable cognition and the assurance that it is reliable. The possible existence of other models cannot compromise or change the nature of what I have been given.

    4. Therefore, under the theistic model, I am assured that my cognition is reliable by virtue of its status as a gift. If it has been given to me, then I have it.

    Also, recall that I have proven with a concrete example that our cognition is, indeed, reliable.

  81. 81
    keith s says:

    StephenB,

    If the theistic model applies to me, then I do know that it is true…

    In other words, if your theistic model is true, then it is true.

    Correct, but so is the following: If your theistic model is false, then it is false.

    The question is whether your theistic model is true or false. You haven’t demonstrated its truth, so you can’t be certain that your cognition is reliable.

  82. 82
    StephenB says:

    KeithS

    In other words, if your theistic model is true, then it is true.

    Well, not quite. If my theistic model is true, then I am assured that my cognitive capacities are reliable.

    If my theistic model is false, then I am not assured that my cognitive capacities are reliable.

    The question is whether your theistic model is true or false.

    In this context, there are two questions; one is metaphysical, one is epistemological

    Metaphysical–Is my theistic version true or false?

    Epistemological–Can I know that my theistic version is true or false?

    We are concerned with both. Here is the answer:

    If my theistic model is true, then I know that my cognitive capacities are reliable.

    If my theistic model is false. then I don’t know if my cognitive capacities are reliable.

    You haven’t demonstrated its truth, so you can’t be certain that your cognition is reliable.

    I have demonstrated its truth several times. You have chosen not to address that demonstration.

  83. 83

    If the theistic model applies to me, then I do know that it is true because I have been endowed with reliable cognition and the assurance that it is reliable. The possible existence of other models cannot compromise or change the nature of what I have been given.

    Stephen, this is hopelessly circular.

    Yielding the irony that you’ve arrived at assurance of the reliability of your cognition by means of unreliable cognition.

  84. 84
    Mark Frank says:

    SB

    To repeat my #63 above (slightly reworded)

    How can you tell the difference between:

    * A deity has given you the knowledge your cognitive capacities are reliable.

    * A deity has lead you to believe your cognitive capacities are reliable but in fact they are not.

  85. 85
    Bob O'H says:

    If experiments that observe quantum phenomena can be run fully-automated, with no human observer present at all, and yet produce the same results as those where a human observer is present, then your argument collapses like a wave-function.

    Yes, but how would you know without (at some point) observing something?

  86. 86
    StephenB says:

    Reciprocating Bill

    Stephen, this is hopelessly circular.

    I am afraid you have missed something. It is obviously true that if I have been given the gift of assurance, then I have it. Why Keith would try to argue against that obvious point is a mystery. However, that is not the proof that we do, in fact, have assurance.

    The proof is in my demonstration that our internal logic corresponds to the logical order of the real world.

  87. 87
    StephenB says:

    Mark Frank

    How can you tell the difference between:

    * A deity has given you the knowledge your cognitive capacities are reliable.

    * A deity has lead you to believe your cognitive capacities are reliable but in fact they are not.

    I appreciate your clarity and conciseness. Again, we are discussing two questions:

    [a] Is it logically possible for the Creator to design cognition such that we can be certain of its reliability?

    [b] Can we, in fact, know that our cognitive capacities are reliable?

    The first question, which is metaphysical, pertains to the Darwinist/Theistic epistemology discussion. With Darwinism, we cannot have the assurance; with theism, we can. If God gives it to us, then we have it. That should be obvious. Keith’s argument to the contrary fails.

    The second question, which is epistemological, can be answered in two ways:

    First, there is a difference between really having a capacity and mistakenly believing we have it. So, if the Creator really gives us the capacity, then we really have it. If we could be fooled into believing that we have the capacity when, in fact, we do not, then God did not give us that capacity after all.

    Second, we can demonstrate the fact that we do, in fact, have that capacity. The proof is in the fact that our internal logic corresponds with the logical order of the real world:

    –Internal logic: If it rains, the streets will get wet.

    –Logical order of the real world: When it rains, the streets always get wet.

    Our internal logic never contradicts the logical order of the real world, and vice versa. Notice also that the argument presented is both valid and sound. If correspondence (and our knowledge of it) wasn’t reliable, we could not make the distinction between a valid argument and a sound argument.

    Accordingly, correspondence is something that you can demonstrate for yourself by simply noting the difference among the various theistic models (and also the Darwinist model). You don’t just believe they are different, you know they are different because you know your cognitive capacities are reliable.

  88. 88
    Mark Frank says:

    SB #91
     

    First, there is a difference between really having a capacity and mistakenly believing we have it. So, if the Creator really gives us the capacity, then we really have it. If we could be fooled into believing that we have the capacity when, in fact, we do not, then God did not give us that capacity after all.

    That doesn’t explain how we can know whether he really gave it to us or was just fooling us.

    Second, we can demonstrate the fact that we do, in fact, have that capacity. The proof is in the fact that our internal logic corresponds with the logical order of the real world:

    That’s fine. But that applies equally to evolutionary or materialistic explanations for our rationality. You may recall that this whole debate arose out of the argument:

    * Evolution would give us reasoning capacities that increase fitness

    * There is no reason to suppose such reasoning capacities would lead us to true beliefs

    * Therefore if evolution is true there is no reason to suppose our beliefs about evolution are true which is contradictory

    Keiths pointed out that the same argument can be applied to ID explanations for our reasoning capacity (and it has the same flaw in it).

    * A designer would give us reasoning capacities that suit his/her intentions 

    * There is no reason to suppose such reasoning capacities would lead us to true beliefs

    * Therefore if ID is true there is no reason to suppose our beliefs about ID are true which is contradictory

    You have put your finger on the flaw in both arguments. We have good reason to suppose our reasoning capacities lead to the truth (however they got there) because they correspond with the real world.

  89. 89
    StephenB says:

    SB: First, there is a difference between really having a capacity and mistakenly believing we have it. So, if the Creator really gives us the capacity, then we really have it. If we could be fooled into believing that we have the capacity when, in fact, we do not, then God did not give us that capacity after all.

    Mark Frank

    That doesn’t explain how we can know whether he really gave it to us or was just fooling us.

    I disagree. We know because, according to that model, we were given the gift to know. Or, to be more precise, we know because we were given a reality in which there is a correspondence between the knower and the thing that is known.

    SB: Second, we can demonstrate the fact that we do, in fact, have that capacity. The proof is in the fact that our internal logic corresponds with the logical order of the real world:

    That’s fine. But that applies equally to evolutionary or materialistic explanations for our rationality.

    I don’t think it does apply. There is no evolutionary or materialistic explanation for the correspondence between the subject (the knower) and the object (the thing that is known).

    You may recall that this whole debate arose out of the argument:
    * Evolution would give us reasoning capacities that increase fitness
    * There is no reason to suppose such reasoning capacities would lead us to true beliefs
    * Therefore if evolution is true there is no reason to suppose our beliefs about evolution are true which is contradictory
    .

    Yes.

    Keiths pointed out that the same argument can be applied to ID explanations for our reasoning capacity (and it has the same flaw in it).
    * A designer would give us reasoning capacities that suit his/her intentions
    * There is no reason to suppose such reasoning capacities would lead us to true beliefs
    * Therefore if ID is true there is no reason to suppose our beliefs about ID are true which is contradictory

    I think I have successfully refuted that claim. Let’s take each point one at a time:

    First, the designer’s “intention” is to provide cognitive capacities which include the assurance of reliability.

    Second, those same capacities are designed to lead us to true beliefs and to provide the assurance that they are, in fact, true. The assurance has been made possible by the created correspondence between the internal logic of the knower and the logical order of reality.

    Therefore, the Theistic interpretation of ID provides an assurance of reliability that the Darwinist model cannot.

    You have put your finger on the flaw in both arguments. We have good reason to suppose our reasoning capacities lead to the truth (however they got there) because they correspond with the real world.

    Yes, we have good reason to suppose that our reasoning capacities lead us to the truth (By the way, thank you for having the courtesy to study the argument. That courtesy sets you apart from the crowd).

    However, I would argue that this is also a good reason to reject Darwinistic epistemology and accept theistic epistemology, since theism explains the correspondence. Of course, Christian Theism is not identical with ID, but it is consistent with it. In other words, there is at least one interpretation of ID (Christian Theism) that can explain rationality. The Darwinist account cannot explain it at all.

    So while it may be the case that some interpretations of ID epistemology contain the same limitation as Darwinism, it is not the case that the Christian/Theism interpretation of ID epistemology contains that same flaw, which is the point of my demonstration.

    Thus, Keith’s argument fails because not all interpretations of ID epistemology contain the flaw.

  90. 90
    keith s says:

    StephenB:

    Thus, Keith’s argument fails because not all interpretations of ID epistemology contain the flaw.

    My argument doesn’t require that cognition be unreliable in all versions of ID-based epistemology.

    Let’s take a closer look at your reasoning, and then in a later comment, a closer look at mine.

    In essence, you are saying:

    1. In my theistic model, cognition is reliable because God designs it that way.

    2. In many other models, both theistic and atheistic, cognition is not reliable.

    3. I can ignore those other models, because in my model, reliable cognition is a gift from God.

    4. Furthermore, since my internal logic seems to match the logic of the external world, I know that my cognition is reliable.

    5. Therefore I know that my theistic model is correct.

    Can you spot the flaws? There are at least three.

    a. You neglect the fact that there are competing evolutionary models in which cognition is (generally) reliable because evolution makes it that way.

    b. You assume that if your internal logic seems to correspond to the external world, then your cognition is reliable — neglecting the fact that if your cognition were unreliable, you could reach that same conclusion in error.

    c. Even if you could demonstrate that your cognition is reliable, that wouldn’t tell you that your personal theistic model is correct. It would only tell you that the correct model, whether theistic or atheistic, would have to involve reliable cognition.

  91. 91
    StephenB says:

    KeithS

    a. You neglect the fact that there are competing evolutionary models in which cognition is (generally) reliable because evolution makes it that way.

    I would challenge that claim. Which evolutionary models provide for an assurance of reliable cognitive capacities? How do they do it? What is your argument? Earlier, you admitted that evolution cannot provide that assurance. Now you are changing your story.

    b. You assume that if your internal logic seems to correspond to the external world, then your cognition is reliable — neglecting the fact that if your cognition were unreliable, you could reach that same conclusion in error.

    I didn’t “assume” anything. I have already proven that our internal logic (not my internal logic) does correspond to the logical order of the real world, and I have provided a concrete example to make it clear. I could have provided many others. You are simply claiming that I am wrong without offering any supporting argument. Make your case.

    c. Even if you could demonstrate that your cognition is reliable, that wouldn’t tell you that your personal theistic model is correct.

    You are wrong. If our cognition is, in fact, reliable, and if my model holds that our cognition is reliable, then my model is obviously correct.

  92. 92
    keith s says:

    StephenB:

    I would challenge that claim. Which evolutionary models provide for an assurance of reliable cognitive capacities?

    The ones that assume that evolution provides us with reliable cognition.

    Likewise, the theistic models that assure reliable cognition are the ones, like yours, that assume that God provides us with reliable cognition.

    Earlier, you admitted that evolution cannot provide that assurance. Now you are changing your story.

    No. If our cognition evolved, we can’t be sure that it is reliable, because cognition is reliable in some possible evolutionary models but not in others, and we can’t be certain which of the models, if any, is correct.

    Likewise, if our cognition was designed, we can’t be sure that it is reliable, because cognition is reliable in some ID-based models but not in others, and we can’t be certain which of the models, if any, is correct.

    I didn’t “assume” anything. I have already proven that our internal logic (not my internal logic) does correspond to the logical order of the real world…

    No, you haven’t. You’ve merely told us that you think that there is a correspondence between our internal logic and the logic of the external world. Could you be wrong about that? Of course!

    If your cognition were unreliable to begin with, then you could easily reach the erroneous conclusion — via your unreliable cognition — that your cognition is reliable. You haven’t ruled out this possibility, so you haven’t proven that your cognition is reliable.

    You are wrong. If our cognition is, in fact, reliable, and if my model holds that our cognition is reliable, then my model is obviously correct.

    No, because there are many models, both theistic and atheistic, that take our cognition to be reliable. If you were able to show that our cognition is reliable, you would have succeeded only in showing that one of those models is correct.

    You certainly wouldn’t have succeeded in showing that your particular model was correct.

  93. 93
    StephenB says:

    KeithS

    No. If our cognition evolved, we can’t be sure that it is reliable, because cognition is reliable in some possible evolutionary models but not in others, and we can’t be certain which of the models, if any, is correct.

    First, you say that no evolutionary model can provide assurance of cognitive reliability. Then you say that some can, but you aren’t sure which ones are capable of it. This is really rather bizarre. How do you know that any model can achieve it if you can’t specify which one it is or explain how it could achieve the task, especially after having said that no model can do it?

    No, you haven’t. [demonstrated cognitive reliability] You’ve merely told us that you think that there is a correspondence between our internal logic and the logic of the external world.

    That isn’t true. I have demonstrated it several times. I wrote this @57

    I am now showing that our knowledge is, in fact, reliable. By virtue of our own experience, we know that our mental logic is in correspondence with the logical order of the real world:

    A Internal logic–-if it rains, then the streets will get wet.

    B External order–-when it rains, the streets always get wet.

    [A] corresponds with [B] and we know that it corresponds. Do you have any doubts about that correspondence?

    If they did not correspond, we could not make the distinction between a valid argument and a sound argument? I ask again: Do you know the difference between a valid argument and a sound argument? It appears that you do not.

    You have not responded. Are you capable of answering these questions? Do you have any counter arguments?

  94. 94
    Mark Frank says:

    SB

    I think there is some confusion between us at to what is being disputed.  My case is that this argument:

    1 ) Evolution would give us reasoning capacities that increase fitness

    2 ) There is no reason to suppose such reasoning capacities would lead us to true beliefs

    3 ) Therefore if evolution is true there is no reason to suppose our beliefs about evolution are true which is contradictory

    Is invalid even if you accept 1) and 2 ). I think you have conceded this because you have conceded that we can verify our reasoning abilities lead us to true beliefs independently of how we got those reasoning beliefs (correspondence with the logic of reality). Therefore 3 does not follow from 2.

    There is a different argument which goes something like this.

    1) Our reasoning capacities correspond to reality

    2) There is no reason why evolution should produce such reasoning capacities

    3) A omnipotent designer who wanted to produce such reasoning capacities would produce them

    I would certainly dispute 2 ) – it seems to me that having reasoning capacities that mostly produce true belief has immense fitness advantages. But anyway it is the classic  God of the Gaps argument.  I can’t see why evolution can do it. An omnipotent designer could do it. Therefore, it must have been an omnipotent designer.

  95. 95
    keith s says:

    StephenB:

    First, you say that no evolutionary model can provide assurance of cognitive reliability.

    No, I didn’t.

    Then you say that some can, but you aren’t sure which ones are capable of it.

    No, I didn’t.

    Stephen, there’s no point in continuing this discussion if you can’t be bothered to read for comprehension — or are unable to.

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