In this post the UD News Desk quotes from Nancy Pearcey’s new book concerning evolutionary epistemology:
An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value.
Piotr thinks he has a cogent response to this:
Does she believe “the ideas in our minds” are innate, or what? At best, it could be argued that the human mind has been shaped by natural selection in such a way that it can produce ideas which help us to survive and have offspring. As far as I can see, thought processes which allow us to understand the world and make correct predictions (and so are empirically “true”) are generally good for survival.
Sorry Piotr. Truth (i.e., saying of that which is that it is and of that which is not that it is not) has no necessary connection to survival. This has been illustrated many times along the following lines:
Assume you have two cavemen, Bob and Fred. Consistent with truth, Bob believes saber-toothed tigers are fearsome monsters that want to eat us. When Bob sees a saber-toothed tiger he runs and hides.
Contrary to truth, Fred believes saber-toothed tigers are warm and fuzzy and only want to be our friends. It just so happens that Fred also believes (again, contrary to truth) that “hide and seek with people” is saber-toothed tigers’ favorite game. Therefore, whenever he sees a saber-toothed tiger he also runs and hides.
Assume for the sake of argument that Fred’s running and hiding as part of the game he thinks he is playing is just as effective at eluding saber-toothed tigers as Bob’s running and hiding out of stark raving fear.
Here’s the kicker: Natural selection is blind to the difference between Fred’s belief and Bob’s belief. Natural selection “selects” for traits that result in differential survival rates. If Fred and Bob survive at the same rate, natural selection cares not that Fred is a loon.