Tom English writes:
Folks, there is no empirical evidence that intelligence exists. Psychologists and ethologists refer to it as a hypothetical construct, and define it operationally. Intelligence may play the role of a cause in a model, but it is merely an abstraction of unidentified causes.
Well. One is tempted to agree with Tom’s first sentence at least if it is constrained to apply to materialists ranting on the Internet. But “no evidence” Tom? What about the post you just wrote. Was that not a product of your intelligence? If Tom gives the standard materialist answer, he would say “no, that post is nothing but the product of the amalgam of physical causes that resulted in a twitchy bag of chemicals called Tom English acting in accordance with physical laws, no different in principle than a rock rolling down a hill. Some of those twitchings led to a blog post. Nothing to see here. Move along.”
Sure Tom. If materialist metaphysical premises are true, that is exactly what happened. But how do you know that materialist metaphysical premises are true? Certainly science did not lead you to that conclusion. Science does not address metaphysics. That is why they call it “metaphysics” and not “physics.” So, again, Tom, how do you know? The answer, of course, is that you accept materialist metaphysical premises on faith without demonstration, just like everyone else accepts their first principles. Everyone has faith commitments. The difference is that theists acknowledge their faith commitments; materialists largely lie to themselves (and everyone else) and deny that they do.
The problem with lying to oneself about one’s faith commitments is that it prevents one from taking those faith commitments out and examining them critically. If one refuses to acknowledge that something even exists, how would one even begin to examine it? But if Tom ever does examine his faith commitments critically, he will quickly come to realize that there are good reasons to reject them. Materialism leads to numerous absurdities, as we have discussed on these pages before, not the least of which is the absurdity of pretending that “Tom English” even exists and that “Tom English” has free will and that “Tom English” has employed his free will to arrive at a conclusion about a truth claim, which means that a mere bag of chemicals is conscious and demonstrates subjective self-awareness, the perception of subject-object duality and intentionality. None of these things is possible if materialist metaphysical premises are true. Yet Tom English blithely acts for all the world as if not only are these things possible, they are ordinary. And of course they are ordinary. Therefore, Tom English is on the horns of a dilemma. He is forced to say that ordinary everyday commonsense facts that he knows for an absolute certainty are true, are in fact false and mere mere illusions. Or he is forced to live his entire life acting as if his most deeply held metaphysical premises are false. And that, dear readers, is good reason to reject those premises. As Phil Johnson said years ago and I have repeated often, I would love to be a materialist. My life would be so much easier. I just can’t manage the massive faith commitments required to swallow it. I prefer to act as if that which I know for a certain fact is true is actually, you know, true.
Finally, I will address the “evidence” question. Tom English is like most materialists. He defines “evidence that does not compel my personal assent” as non-evidence. That is how he is able to say there is “no evidence” for the existence of intelligence even as he provides such evidence in the very act of denying its existence. I am going to trial next week on one of my cases. I would like to be able to employ the materialist shtick and say to the judge something like: “You know all of that evidence that the other side introduced you honor. Well, it does not convince me personally. Therefore, it is not really evidence at all. I win.” But I would be ashamed to say something that stupid in public. Which means that I have a much lower shame threshold than Tom English. Hmmm? Maybe we can rework Tom’s first sentence to something that is actually true: “Folks, there is no empirical evidence that Tom English has any shame.” Yeah, that works.