Intelligent Design

Selective Horrid Doubt

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Over the last several days I have been performing a little experiment.  See here and here.  I have quoted several prominent Darwinists for the proposition that natural selection selects for fitness, not for truth.  See the appendix at the end of this post for a sample of some of these quotations.  I think Patricia Churchland puts the proposition most starkly.  Evolution selects for survival and “[t]ruth, whatever that is, definitely takes the hindmost.”

Here is the nub of my experiment:  I was testing to see if – given this uncontroversial aspect of the theory – any of the materialists would express even the tiniest, slightest, minutest doubts regarding the truth of their own views.  Several materialist commentators jumped into to the comment threads.  And they did not disappoint.  Not a single one of them picked up on the seemingly rather obvious point that, in principle, statements like Churchlands’ apply to Darwinian theory as much as they do to truth claims materialists deride or hold in contempt, such as belief in God.

This is not surprising.  Indeed, our Darwinist friends are acting perfectly consistently with a tradition that goes all the way back to Darwin himself.  In an 1881 letter Darwin wrote:

Nevertheless you have expressed my inward conviction, though far more vividly and clearly than I could have done that the Universe is not the result of chance. But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?

Darwin clearly understood the implications of his own evolutionary materialist ideas with respect to contemplating whether God exists.  We are just jumped up apes who have deluded ourselves into believing we have libertarian free will and can use that free will to grasp onto truth and reject error.  But at the end of the day can we really trust our monkey minds when they grapple with the big questions like whether God exists?

Here’s the funny thing though.  While Darwin understood these epistemological implications of his theory perfectly well, the historical record is altogether devoid of any instance where he extended those implications to his own theory.  Exactly like the Darwinians who comment on UD’s posts, Darwin had “selective horrid doubt.”  He doubted whether his mind could contemplate God.  But he apparently never entertained the slightest doubt that his mind could contemplate deep time and the origin of species.  Isn’t that odd?

C.S. Lewis understood what Darwin apparently did not (or at least did not acknowledge).  He wrote:

If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents—the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts—i.e. of materialism and astronomy—are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting that the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milkjug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.

Evolutionary materialists have a severe epistemological dilemma:  If their propositions about the universe are true, there would be no way for us to know they are true.  Evolutionary materialism saws off the epistemological branch on which it attempts to sit.

Evolutionary materialist say our ideas about God are evolutionary adaptations.  In other words, organisms that hold these ideas were more fit, because the ideas gave them a survival advantage.  What was that survival advantage?  Well, make up your own just so story.  Yours is as good as anyone else’s.  Fear of God’s punishment caused people to develop moral codes, which led to increased cooperation and this enhanced their chances of survival.  Other stories have been advanced.

Can we make up a just so story for the evolutionary rise of materialism?  Of course.  Give it a try.  Materialism arose as the next stage of evolution because [insert your just so story here].

The funny thing is that while materialism’s epistemological dilemma is glaringly obvious, I have yet to see a materialist who will acknowledge it about this own ideas.   No room for doubt about our beautiful materialist ideas.  As with Darwin before them, their horrid doubt is reserved for other people’s ideas.

 

APPENDIX

“[Our] brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.”  Steven Pinker

“Sometimes you are more likely to survive and propagate if you believe a falsehood than if you believe the truth.”  Eric Baum

“According to evolution by natural selection, an organism that sees reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that sees none of reality but is just tuned to fitness.  Never.”  Donald Hoffman

“We are anything but a mechanism set up to perceive the truth for its own sake. Rather, we have evolved a nervous system that acts in the interest of our gonads, and one attuned to the demands of reproductive competition. If fools are more prolific than wise men, then to that degree folly will be favored by selection. And if ignorance aids in obtaining a mate, then men and women will tend to be ignorant.”  Michael Ghiselin

“[N]atural selection does not care about truth; it cares only about reproductive success” Stephen Stich

“Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism’s way of life and enhances the organism’s chances of survival. Truth, whatever that is, definitely takes the hindmost.”  Patricia Churchland

“We are jumped-up apes, and our brains were only designed to understand the mundane details of how to survive in the stone-age African savannah.”  Richard Dawkins

 

 

 

59 Replies to “Selective Horrid Doubt

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  2. 2
    clehrhoff says:

    One problem with the “horrid doubt” argument is that it only addresses the fitness or survival part of the development of human thought processes. Language, science, etc. has developed and taken a path not always related to survival. There have been many tools and other developments over the last thousands of years that make it unclear what factors influenced our current mental abilities.

  3. 3
    tribune7 says:

    I’m glad you explained it.

  4. 4
    Barry Arrington says:

    clehrhoff

    There have been many tools and other developments over the last thousands of years that make it unclear what factors influenced our current mental abilities.

    Said — accordingly to materialist evolutionary theory — a jumped up naked ape who has deluded himself into into believing he has libertarian free will and can use that free will to grasp onto truth and reject error.

    clehroff, you don’t seem to understand the thrust of the post. You can’t solve the materialist epistemological dilemma by simply pretending it does not exist, as you have done in your comment.

  5. 5
    vmahuna says:

    I read way too much History to get hung up on this “truth” nonsense. In the Social Sciences, “truth” is a moving target that changes every generation or so.

    And, in purely Theological news, a group of Catholic clergy have sent the Pope a formal letter in which they suggest he is guilty of 7 heresies. The Pope declined to respond to a similar note a month or 2 back, and apparently he will not respond to this one either.

    According to the Official Catholic Rulebook, if the Pope declares that any of his statements are “ex cathedra” (from the chair [of St. Peter]), then they are beyond doubt or further questioning and absolutely and forever True. At least until another Pope, also speaking ex cathedra, announces the cancellation of the previous “irrefutable” Truth. As far as I can tell, Pope Francis so far has not made any chairly declarations. Should he make an unacceptable chairly statement of Truth, it would most likely create a Schism. The Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox Catholics have been calling each other Schismatics for lo! these many centuries now. Something about the precise wording of 1 sentence in the Credo… Both Roman and Orthodox beliefs are “true” on alternate Tuesdays or something. The rest of the time they agree to disagree.

    Perhaps the Darwinists should start forcing Apostates to call themselves something else, just to keep the theology pure.

  6. 6
    News says:

    Barry, is it possible that the explanation is simpler than we suppose?

    Darwinians honestly believe that we are just animals whose observations are selected for survival, not truth.

    Animals are not right or wrong, only alive. Their point of view need not make sense.

    That frees Darwinians and naturalists in general from any need except to dominate and suppress others.

    They don’t understand because there is nothing to understand and no one to understand. (Consciousness is an illusion.)

  7. 7
    Origenes says:

    Darwin doesn’t trust his convictions because he doesn’t trust their source. IOWs he questions the validity of his convictions because they originated from a non-rational cause — a monkey’s mind.
    But here is one problem I have with this … If one values rationality and doesn’t trust non-rational causes, how can one adhere to naturalism? According to naturalism, non-rational causes are the only causes in existence …

  8. 8
    mike1962 says:

    A still humbler position remains [than materialist Darwinists asserting human reason can ‘see truths’]. You may, it you like, give up all claim to truth. You may say simply ‘Our way of thinking is useful’-without adding, even under your breath, ‘and therefore true’. It enables us to set a bone and build a bridge and make a Sputnik. And that is good enough. The old, high pretensions of reason must be given up. It is a behaviour evolved entirely as an aid to practice. That is why, when we use it simply for practice, we get along pretty well; but when we fly off into speculation and try to get general views of ‘reality’ we end in the endless, useless, and probably merely verbal, disputes of the philosopher. We will be humbler in future. Goodbye to all that. No more theology, no more ontology, no more metaphysics . . .

    But then, equally, no more Naturalism. For of course Naturalism is a prime specimen of that towering speculation, discovered from practice and going far beyond experience, which is now being condemned. Nature is not an object that can be presented either to the senses or the imagination. It can be reached only by the most remote inferences. Or not reached, merely approached. It is the hoped for, the assumed, unification in a single interlocked system of all the things inferred from our scientific experiments, More than that, the Naturalist, not content to assert this, goes on to the sweeping negative assertion. ‘There is nothing except this’–an assertion surely, as remote from practice, experience, and any conceivable verification as has ever been made since men began to use their reason speculatively. Yet on the present view, the very first step into such a use was an abuse, the perversion of a faculty merely practical, and the source of all chimeras. — C.S. Lewis, Miracles chapter 3, the Cardinal Difficulty of Naturalism

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    EricMH says:

    Why would you expect people who believe such things to argue rationally?

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    rvb8 says:

    I have little to disagree with in Barry’s description of who I am, ‘a jumped up ape’, I do have a problem with him thinking I would take offense at that description;I don’t, it’s entirely accurate.

    I also have a problem with him suggesting I believe we have ‘libertarian freewill’, I am a strict ‘Determinist’, and believe through countless anecdotal observations, that we have close to zero freewill.

    Sure, we can decide where to sit, or what to eat, but even the type of car we buy has been influenced, and largely decided by our up bringing, country, and ideology. (I’ll warrant there are a fair few Humvee owners here, given the inclination of Conservative American, and British Christians to ignore climate advice, and make statements with wheels.)

  13. 13
    Barry Arrington says:

    Neil Rickert at 11:

    [UPDATE: I copied Neil’s post into his comment for ease of reference to UD’s readers. Neil objected and the original link was restored]

    Traditionally, it is said that knowledge is justified true belief. I’ve disagreed with that in the past, and I continue to disagree.

    Neil, is your disagreement justified? Are the propositions on which your disagreement true? Do you believe those propositions? If the answer to those questions is yes, then you are just another idiot who affirms that which he denies. If the answer is no, then you are just stupid. Either way, not looking too good for you.

    I don’t know what it would mean to say that naturalism is true

    Then, you should probably refrain from commenting while the adults have their discussion. The “I don’t know what words mean” gambit you people use so often is really unseemly. I have nothing but scorn for those who employ it.

    I’m not sure what Pinker might have meant

    If you don’t know what Pinker means, then you really ought to refrain from embarrassing yourself by pontificating on it. Don’t you think? Just saying.

    Regarding Hoffman:

    That’s just an empty tautology.

    You don’t seem to know what the word “tautology” means, because Hoffman’s statement is certainly not one. Hoffman is saying that evolution actually dumbed us down, because if we saw everything as it is, we would be overwhelmed.

    They seem to assume that “truth” is some sort of external standard which we can use, where “external” implies that it is from outside human culture

    God help us, but it looks like you are asserting some sort of post modern “all truth is constructed” drivel. Do you look both ways when you cross the street Neil? Yes, you do. Why? Why don’t you just treat that bus hurling down the street as a social construct? I wonder if your whole comment is an attempt at a Sokel hoax? If so, well done. You really have demonstrated the utter inanity of the whole “truth is a social construct” idiocy. Good for you Neil.

    When I look at how we actually use “true” in our speech, I see that it is messy.

    No, your body splattered all over the bus would be messy. That is why I can state without the slightest doubt that you don’t actually live your life as if the things you say in your comment are true. Idiot.

    If I’m right about that

    What do you mean “if I’m right about that”? You are saying “if what I am saying is true.” And you say truth is merely a human social construct. Then you turn right around and act as if truth has some real connection to the actual world.

    Barry Arrington apparently thinks that those appendix statements are a fatal problem for evolution.

    No, Neil, I don’t. That you would say this demonstrates that you don’t have the first clue about what you are talking about. The argument I advance in the post has absolutely nothing to do with whether evolution is true.

    so those thoughts are constrained in ways that accidental by-products of movement of atoms would not be constrained

    Do tell, Neil. If the universe consists of nothing but matter in motion, it follows that libertarian free will does not exist. Everything is determined by the interaction of matter in motion. Are you saying there is something else other than matter or energy that operates to constrain human thought? Tell us what that is.

    You speculations about the basis of my epistemology are inane babblings that I will not dignify with a response.

    If, however, truth is a human construct,

    Are all the truth claims in your argument mere human constructs? If that is the case, why should anyone care what you say Neil?

    You have not touched, much less refuted, the argument in the OP. You agree with Dawkins that we are nothing but jumped up hairless apes. If that is true, you are right back to Darwin’s horrid doubt. But I notice that you are nevertheless serenely confident in the veracity of the musings of your monkey mind. That would be funny if it were not so tragic.

  14. 14
    Barry Arrington says:

    News @ 6. Certainly. The rise of murderous regimes with the deaths of tens of millions on their hands and the rise of materialist ideology were not merely coincidental.

  15. 15
    Neil Rickert says:

    I’ll note that what is posted here under my name, as comment #11, was not posted here by me.

    I gave a response on my own blog. What I posted here was a short link to that blog.

    Somebody has replaced what I posted here, presumably by copying from the post on my blog.

    I do not appreciate this. I consider it dishonest to do this without my permission.

    Worse still, the copying was badly done. It is posted here as flat text without the indentation (blockquote tags), and that makes it hard to read what I said and what was said by others.

    Please restore this to what I originally posted.

    Response by UD: Neil’s post was copied into comment 11 for ease of reference by UD. Neil has objected and the link to his blog was restored]

  16. 16
    rvb8 says:

    That’s amazing. Neil Rickert has had his words manipulated by the ID community! Who could have guessed such a thing could happen? It’s almost as if the ID community was somehow trying to convey a meaning other than the one the author intended.

    By publishing Neil’s piece here, without his permission, borders on some kind of academic malfeasance, which has a specific name that escapes me.

    I must confess, this is very out of character for the ID community.

    Apologies forthcoming, or is it ‘double down’ time?

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8, do the meaningless mouth noises emitted by a jumped-up monkey have any binding claim-value? Or, is this just a thinly veiled threat along lines of my monkey-gang can beat up yours in a fight so you better surrender and confess now, handing yourselves over to our tender mercies. Where, the track record already established shows that mercies are the LAST thing to be expected. Where, by contrast, I can consistently hold that there may be a problem with how a comment was allegedly edited, you cannot. Do you not see the might makes right incoherence in what you are doing? Wake up, man! KF

    PS: Even on the view that the claim that NR made is so, the matter is utterly minor, not what it is being blown up to be, complete with attempted swarming down. If the comment was edited as claimed without notice, all that would be required is to adjust:

    LINK

    >>>>>>>

    ED: NR makes a claim at the above which will be inserted here to better support our discussion:

    BLOCKQUOTE SNIPPET.

    –> In short there is not only little basis for grand moral posturing and blame projection on evolutionary materialism (apart from “might/ manipulation make(s) for right”) but the actual thing done would be minor and a minor adjustment would resolve it.

    –> As for formatting stuff, I can see why a busy person not versed on say HTML code or how to bring it up would simply copy-paste.

    –> So, at most, whoever may have edited the comment should add a preface.

    –> And given the weaponisation of Red Guards tactics, apologies are now a problem in contexts of contentious debate such as we are seeing here. Because the Gentleman’s code of civil behaviour has been ruthlessly exploited by radicals intending to attack, attack, attack on the principles of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. (FYI, if you and your ilk have long since trashed the code of decency and redemptive growth, and habitually ruthlessly attack those naive enough to still abide by it, do not be surprised to see that after being burned a few times people treat the demand for apology coming from suspect sources as little more than a demand for the confession ritual in an intended kangaroo court show trial. Where, extorted confessions are used to humiliate, doom and destroy those who are only there as targets and scapegoats.)

    –> See part of why we as a civilisation are on a ruinous march of folly? Can we turn back, please, before it is too late?

  18. 18
    rvb8 says:

    Kairos,

    so many words.

    Neil’s post at 15 states quite clearly, ‘Please restore this to what I originally posted.’

    That would suggest that the author, Neil has noted his words are not in their original form, as he is the author of his words, it is quite clear some dastardly hand has been at work altering them.

    Have you noticed how you can quite often devolve into insults and name calling, ‘meaningless mouth noises emitted by a jumped up monkey’.

    You claim, ‘the matter is utterly minor’. Says you, the author Neil begs to differ. Until you provide evidence that Neil’s complaint is ‘minor’, I will stick with the word of the author.

    Just for the record calling me a ‘jumped up monkey’, may be an insult to you, to me it is of little consequence.

    Now, please ask Neil, the author, for his views on this less than noble act. Here’s a clue, taking another person’s writings, and altering them, in any way, may seem like a day at the races for ID folk, we ‘jumped up monkeys’, consider it dishonourable at best, and plain dishonesty at worst.

  19. 19
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I went searching, and found this link:

    https://nwrickert.wordpress.com/2017/09/25/on-the-eaan/

    First, I suggest the substantial issue traces not so much to Plantinga as to Darwin, and particularly to how he SELECTIVELY used it to dismiss doubts against his evolutionary theory while gliding over the patent self-referential incoherence WRT advancing that theory. As Nancy Pearcey aptly highlighted in her recent Finding Truth (HT: ENV):

    Darwin’s Selective Skepticism

    People are sometimes under the impression that Darwin himself recognized the problem. They typically cite Darwin’s famous “horrid doubt” passage where he questions whether the human mind can be trustworthy if it is a product of evolution: “With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy.”

    But, of course, Darwin’s theory itself was a “conviction of man’s mind.” So why should it be “at all trustworthy”?

    Surprisingly, however, Darwin never confronted this internal contradiction in this theory. Why not? Because he expressed his “horrid doubt” selectively — only when considering the case for a Creator.

    From time to time, Darwin admitted that he still found the idea of God persuasive. He once confessed his “inward conviction … that the Universe is not the result of chance.” It was in the next sentence that he expressed his “horrid doubt.” So the “conviction” he mistrusted was his lingering conviction that the universe is not the result of chance.

    In another passage Darwin admitted, “I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man.” Again, however, he immediately veered off into skepticism: “But then arises the doubt — can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animal, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions?”

    That is, can it be trusted when it draws “grand conclusions” about a First Cause? Perhaps the concept of God is merely an instinct programmed into us by natural selection, Darwin added, like a monkey’s “instinctive fear and hatred of a snake.”

    In short, it was on occasions when Darwin’s mind led him to a theistic conclusion that he dismissed the mind as untrustworthy. He failed to recognize that, to be logically consistent, he needed to apply the same skepticism to his own theory.

    Modern followers of Darwin still apply the theory selectively. Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould wrote, “Darwin applied a consistent philosophy of materialism to his interpretation of nature,” in which “mind, spirit, and God as well, are just words that express the wondrous results of neuronal complexity.” In other words, God is an idea that appears in the human mind when the electrical circuitry of the brain has evolved to a certain level of complexity.

    To be logically consistent, however, Gould should turn the same skepticism back onto Darwin’s ideas, which he never did. Gould applied his evolutionary skepticism selectively — to discredit the idea of God.

    Applied consistently, Darwinism undercuts not only itself but also the entire scientific enterprise. Kenan Malik, a writer trained in neurobiology, writes, “If our cognitive capacities were simply evolved dispositions, there would be no way of knowing which of these capacities lead to true beliefs and which to false ones.” Thus “to view humans as little more than sophisticated animals …undermines confidence in the scientific method.”

    Just so. Science itself is at stake. John Lennox, professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford, writes that according to atheism, “the mind that does science … is the end product of a mindless unguided process. Now, if you knew your computer was the product of a mindless unguided process, you wouldn’t trust it. So, to me atheism undermines the rationality I need to do science.”

    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.

    Now, in the OP above, BA actually directly addresses this:

    Darwin clearly understood the implications of his own evolutionary materialist ideas with respect contemplating whether God exists. We are just jumped up apes who have deluded ourselves into believing we have libertarian free will and can use that free will to grasp onto truth and reject error. But at the end of the day can we really trust our monkey minds when they grapple with the big questions like whether God exists?

    Here’s the funny thing though. While Darwin understood this epistemological implications of his theory perfectly well, the historical record is altogether devoid of any instance where he extended those implications to his own theory. Exactly like the Darwinians who comment on UD’s posts, Darwin had selective horrid doubt. He doubted whether his mind could contemplate God. But he apparently never entertained the slightest doubt that his mind could contemplate deep time and the origin of species. Isn’t that odd?

    How does Rickert respond?

    By first and foremost injecting Plantinga as a distraction, undercutting the force of BA’s point that this is a longstanding problem and one that comes straight from the founders of modern evolutionary thought. That distractive move is telling, as it utterly mischaracterises what is at stake and fails to acknowledge its actual foundational nature. And, given the point by point citation otherwise, it has to be deliberate.

    Notice, how Rickert tries to then deflect the force of the point raised by BA and made by Pearcey . . . which, Rickert MUST be aware of as he speaks of reductio argumentation:

    Plantinga directly mentions this letter, and argues that in effect if evolution is true it cannot be rational to believe that it is. The trouble with this argument is that this is exactly there opposite conclusion to the one that Darwin made.

    No, NR, the problem with Darwin was that he played the logic with a swivel game, SELECTIVELY — it is right there in BA’s title! — applying his doubts to challenges to his theory while failing to see that such a challenge is necessarily self-referential and must also apply to his evolutionary theorising. Not even a Darwin can have his cake and eat it.

    Let me remind, from the OP:

    While Darwin understood this epistemological implications of his theory perfectly well, the historical record is altogether devoid of any instance where he extended those implications to his own theory. Exactly like the Darwinians who comment on UD’s posts, Darwin had selective horrid doubt. He doubted whether his mind could contemplate God. But he apparently never entertained the slightest doubt that his mind could contemplate deep time and the origin of species. Isn’t that odd?

    That is the pivotal issue on the table and it needs to be squarely faced.

    As Pearcey put it, Science itself is in the stakes, and I would add, our general rationality, responsibility and freedom, including freedom to actually freely think for ourselves.

    Playing at let’s strawmannise and bash Plantinga does not resolve this central question.

    KF

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8, Sufficient has been said to make my view clear. I have then taken time to search, link and comment as just posted. I did not edit the original comment (assuming that NR’s account is the whole story). I don’t have that power, those who so acted can speak for themselves. The link to NR is there on record, and it is further clear that NR set up and knocked over a strawman, one he led up to by using a red herring distractor instead of squarely facing a matter that is foundational. I took time to speak to that. That too is now part of the record. Let’s see your response to those rhetorical moves by NR and your response to the foundational issue. Failing which, it will be clear that you are doing little more than trying to side track. G’day, sir. KF

  21. 21
    rvb8 says:

    kairos,

    was his post altered in any way?

    That, and only that is relavent. You went searching? Why? Just ask Neil.

    I hve yet to meet anyone in the ID community that can explain to me how ligitimate complaints concerning quote mining, and tampering with editing by the ID community can be argued away as anything other than dishonest.

    Good night!

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8, you obviously refuse to acknowledge what I have already said in so many words and have gone on to expand upon. You refuse to accept that I took the step of searching for and linking what appears to be NR’s original comment; which speaks for itself as does my taking time to point out what was the rhetorical strategy employed by NR there, an all too familiar, deeply fallacious and polarising gambit. You refuse to acknowledge what your side has repeatedly done that effectively takes apologies off the table, given what is all too likely to happen with any such attempt, turning demands for apologies into little more than ultimatums to abjectly yield to whatever bully-boy tactics are being contemplated. That pattern speaks for itself, and it removes you yet again from the circle of civil conversation. In that context onward accusations are to be seen as little more than flinging rhetorical accusations and insinuations wrenched out of context. That part of the matter is finished. Now, let us see if you have enough intellectual integrity to at least acknowledge the foundational issue that is at stake and to actually cogently and frankly address it. Prediction: on track record, you will not. At least, let this prediction fail, please. Show us that there is hope for you yet. KF

    PS: As the very injection of the term “quotemining” is a broad brush accusation, for the record the citation from Darwin is NOT out of context nor is it misleading. The issue is clear, and it needs to be faced. Likewise, I strongly suspect the other citations are accurate and represent the specific concerns accurately. Too often your side has resorted tot he blanket charge of dishonest misquoting or out of context citation when in fact the matter on the table is a clear case of damaging admission against interest that speaks for itself. (Onlookers, see just how needlessly polarised the situation has become because of Darwinist debate tactics? Does that show why I tend to cite in extenso?)

  23. 23
    Charles says:

    Neil Rickert @ 15

    Somebody has replaced what I posted here, presumably by copying from the post on my blog.

    I do not appreciate this. I consider it dishonest to do this without my permission.

    Meh. Yet another in an unending stream of jumped up ape devised internal commmunications lacking in justification.

  24. 24
    News says:

    Neil Rickert at 24, if it’s your post, you can edit it.

  25. 25
    News says:

    Barry Arrington at 14: You write, “The rise of murderous regimes with the deaths of tens of millions on their hands and the rise of materialist ideology were not merely coincidental.”

    Some friends here in Ottawa were talking yesterday morning about that. The traditional tyrant wanted honour, glory, girls, loot, girls, revenge, loot, and immunity from prosecution in this world and judgement in the next. He tended to think that there was a moral order, one he might be defying. So he dealt for himself, killing whoever got in his way.

    Naturalist monsters like Mao, Pol Pot, and Stalin acknowledge no such moral order. So killing hundreds of millions of people in order to implement their political programs meant no more than spraying insecticide.

    I suspect it is a natural consequence of naturalism applied to affairs of state.

    * Okay, maybe the tyrant wanted boys instead. Or both. But his ambitions were not much larger than his appetites.

  26. 26
    Origenes says:

    Neil Rickert @11

    Lewis: If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too.

    Lewis says: if a chain of events starts with an accidental cause, then each event in the chain is accidental. If A -> B -> C, and A is accidental, then B and C are also accidental. It may very well be the case that B and C follow lawfully from A, but since A was accidental, so are B and C.
    What does Lewis mean by ‘accidental’? I take it that he uses the term to exclude intentionality, so that ‘accidental’ means unintentional. If an arrow is shot by accident, then there is no intention, there is no target. So whatever is hit by the arrow, it was no target, there was no intention — it must be an accidental hit. If the cause is accidental then everything that follows is accidental.

    Note that the arrow follows the laws of nature, but this fact does not change the verdict that any hit is accidental.
    Neil Rickert writes about what Lewis states above:

    Neil Rickert: I don’t have any problem with that.

    Lewis proceeds with his argument thusly:

    Lewis: If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents—the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms.

    Neil Rickert: That’s absurd, and does not follow from the first part of the quote.

    What Lewis says follows exactly from the first part of the quote. If the cause is accidental then everything that follows — our thoughts included — is accidental.

    Neil Rickert: If, by accident, I spill some water, it does not follow that the subsequent action of the water will just be an accidental by-product of movement of atoms. In fact, we would expect the water to flow down hill (if there is a slope).

    Just like an arrow, water follows the laws of nature, but, given an accidental cause, water running down a slope is not any less accidental then an arrow shot by accident traveling through the air.

    Neil Rickert: Similarly, even if humans result from an accident, it does not follow that thoughts are accidently motions of atoms.

    Atoms, like water and arrows, follow the laws of nature, but if their movement is induced by accident — without intention — they follow an accidental course.

    Neil Rickert: If they were, we wouldn’t call them thoughts.

    If they were — if naturalism is true and thoughts were on an accidental cause — then there would be no rationality and we would certainly not be responsible free rational agents who can freely decide what to call thoughts.

  27. 27
    daveS says:

    KF,

    RVB8, do the meaningless mouth noises emitted by a jumped-up monkey have any binding claim-value?

    Not mocking your colorful language, but what are necessary conditions for a human not to be a “jumped-up monkey”?

    Is a god-like being required to elevate us above this status?

  28. 28
    Mung says:

    For me, it is not horrid doubt, but horrid certainty.

  29. 29

    Kairosfocus @ 22: You are a saint.

  30. 30
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, can you provide a reasonable mechanism that

    1: per observed capability to generate required FSCO/I, can

    2: generate organised computational substrates — I will not stipulate neural network archi — and

    3: program them effectively to do what we do (including reason and finding ourselves as under moral government . . . including when we reason), all

    4: based on blind chance and mechanical necessity.

    KF

  31. 31
    daveS says:

    KF,

    I asked first. I will answer your question (although you likely can guess what I will say) if you answer mine.

  32. 32
    Origenes says:

    rvb8 @12

    rvb8: I also have a problem with him suggesting I believe we have ‘libertarian freewill’, I am a strict ‘Determinist’, and believe through countless anecdotal observations, that we have close to zero freewill.

    You are not a strict determinist. A strict determinist holds that we have exactly zero free will.

    rvb8: Sure, we can decide where to sit, or what to eat …

    Elaborate please. If we have a little bit free will, what is it? I take it that you understand that “our neurons tell us where to sit and what to eat” is not an answer. So, what is it that is capable of freely choosing where to sit and what to eat?

  33. 33
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, my answer is of long standing. I find that cell based life can be reasonably explained on design, which needs not necessitate more than a molecular nanotech lab some generations beyond Venter et al. That has been my view for over a decade and it is essentially the same as that which ID thinkers have held for the past 30+ years. I find that a fine tuned cosmos set to a deeply isolated operating point amenable to C-Chem, aqueous medium cell based life points to a designed cosmos and thus an extra cosmic designer of awesome power and skill. Beyond, our being morally governed embodied creatures points to a necessary being world root that is inherently able to bridge IS and OUGHT. Post Hume’s guillotine, only the world root can answer to that, and it must be a necessary being. There is just one serious candidate: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of loyalty and the responsible, reasonable, free service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature. The God of ethical theism, and I happen to further hold on historical evidence and on the experience of millions across 2000 years (including that I am alive today), that Jesus of Nazareth, the risen Christ, is that God manifest in human flesh for our redemption. As you know, none of this is a new view with me, and the reasons have been argued out in thread after thread. KF

  34. 34
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Thanks, my answer to your #30 of course is “no”.

    Beyond, our being morally governed embodied creatures points to a necessary being world root that is inherently able to bridge IS and OUGHT. Post Hume’s guillotine, only the world root can answer to that, and it must be a necessary being. There is just one serious candidate: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of loyalty and the responsible, reasonable, free service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

    In particular, I take it that you believe there is no way we could gain access to objective or universal morality (and possibly other domains of knowledge, such as mathematics) without a god-like being granting us this access. Is that correct?

  35. 35
    Neil Rickert says:

    Responding to Barry Arrington.

    Neil, is your disagreement justified?

    You can browse through the epistemology posts at my blog, and decide for yourself.

    Are the propositions on which your disagreement true?

    Which propositions? I am disagreeing with the propositional account of knowledge.

    me: I don’t know what it would mean to say that naturalism is true.

    BA: Then, you should probably refrain from commenting while the adults have their discussion.

    If there’s a point there, I don’t know what it is. I have discussed why I do not subscribe to naturalism, maybe 2 or 3 years ago at this site. There is still a lot that we do not know. So we do not know what we mean by “natural” nor what we mean by “naturalism”.

    me: I’m not sure what Pinker might have meant with his comment on adaptivity of truth.

    ba quoting me: I’m not sure what Pinker might have meant

    I think that’s technically called a quote mine. I went on to respond to two possibilities on what Pinker might have meant in his use of “adaptive”.

    You don’t seem to know what the word “tautology” means, because Hoffman’s statement is certainly not one.

    Read it again. It says that an organism that is optimally tuned for fitness will be optimally fit. The part about “sees reality as it is” is just rhetorical; it does not affect the truth of the statement as a whole.

    Why don’t you just treat that bus hurling down the street as a social construct?

    Of course the bus is a social construct. If society had not constructed buses and streets, there would not be buses hurtling down streets. To say that it is a social construct is not to deny that is physical. And the truth conditions for sentences about buses are also established by society. If we had called that thing a balloon instead of a bus, we would have different true sentences.

    If the universe consists of nothing but matter in motion, …

    I think I have been clear, that I do not subscribe to materialism. We do not know what “matter in motion” means. Quantum physics leaves us uncertain about “matter”, and relativity leaves us uncertain about “motion”.

  36. 36
    Charles says:

    Neil Rickert @ 35

    We do not know what “matter in motion” means. Quantum physics leaves us uncertain about “matter”, and relativity leaves us uncertain about “motion”.

    On that basis alone your driver’s license ought to be revoked. Tell the next cop that cites you for a moving violation, and the judge in your case: “But your Honor! I don’t subscribe to materialism. Why, we don’t even know what matter in motion means.”

    You, being a self-professed “computer scientist”, ought to hang your head in shame. Engineers understand both “quantum physics” and “matter in motion” well enough to build quantum computers, something a professed “computer scientist” ought to admit.

    I haven’t seen such intellectual dishonesty since Elizabeth Liddle. This comment of yours should be linked everytime you profess your integrity or knowlege of anything.

    Unlike you, engineers understand what “matter in motion” means. We understand both well enough to build the LHC and collide matter in motion at relativistic speeds, as well as build quantum computers.

  37. 37
    Origenes says:

    Neil Rickert @35

    Barry Arrington: Neil, is your disagreement justified?

    Neil Rickert: You can browse through the epistemology posts at my blog, and decide for yourself.

    You are missing the point Rick. What Barry does is like asking “Is that statement true?” in response to someone who claims “There are no true statements.” The idea is that there is no satisfactory answer.

    Barry Arrington: Are the propositions on which your disagreement [rests] true?

    Neil Rickert: Which propositions? I am disagreeing with the propositional account of knowledge.

    And you base this disagreement on your propositions Rick. The mistake you make is a classic mistake.

    Barry Arrington: Do you believe those propositions? If the answer to those questions is yes, then you are just another idiot who affirms that which he denies. If the answer is no, then you are just stupid. Either way, not looking too good for you.

    It reminds me of Jim Slagle’s account of Marx and Freud:

    Marx himself wrote of his critics, “Your very ideas are but the outgrowth of the conditions of your bourgeois production and bourgeois property, just as your jurisprudence is but the will of your class made into a law for all, a will whose essential character and direction are determined by the economical conditions of existence of your class.”2 Thus, his critics’ beliefs are brought about by social conditioning and their economic position in society and, as such, can be dismissed.3 The obvious response to such claims is to apply it to the Freudian and the Marxist themselves, not to mention Freud and Marx: if all beliefs are the product of nonrational forces, and thus nonveracious in some way, then belief in Freudianism and Marxism is similarly produced and so just as nonveracious as any other. If all reasoning is hopelessly tainted, then the Freudian and the Marxist arrive at their doctrines by tainted processes too, and if this condition allows their critics to be discounted, as Marx seems to suggest, it allows Freudianism and Marxism to be discounted by the same token.
    [Jim Slagle, ‘The Epistemological Skyhook’]

  38. 38
    Seversky says:

    “[Our] brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” Steven Pinker

    Sometimes, yes. But all the time? No, Pinker does not appear to be saying that. So how much is “sometimes”? The majority of the time? Is Pinker arguing that believing falsehoods gives you a better chance of survival than understanding the truth? Or is that you can only get away with believing falsehoods for a minority of the time? Is it that, for the most part, sooner or later reality will blow right through false beliefs and smack you in the face?

    “Sometimes you are more likely to survive and propagate if you believe a falsehood than if you believe the truth.” Eric Baum

    There’s that “sometimes” again. See above

    “According to evolution by natural selection, an organism that sees reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that sees none of reality but is just tuned to fitness. Never.” Donald Hoffman

    Never? That’s a bold claim. So just what is the functional difference between seeing reality as it is and being “tuned for fitness” – whatever that means?

    “We are anything but a mechanism set up to perceive the truth for its own sake. Rather, we have evolved a nervous system that acts in the interest of our gonads, and one attuned to the demands of reproductive competition. If fools are more prolific than wise men, then to that degree folly will be favored by selection. And if ignorance aids in obtaining a mate, then men and women will tend to be ignorant.” Michael Ghiselin

    Yes, if fools are more prolific than wise men that would indicate they are being favored by natural selection. The question here is will fools survive long enough to reproduce at a greater rate than wise men.

    “[N]atural selection does not care about truth; it cares only about reproductive success” Stephen Stich

    Natural selection doesn’t actually “care” about anything, except as a figure of speech. But if truth-tracking behavior improves the chances of survival of those who have that capacity then we could say that natural selection does care about truth.

    “Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism’s way of life and enhances the organism’s chances of survival. Truth, whatever that is, definitely takes the hindmost.” Patricia Churchland

    How are “Improvements in sensorimotor control” and a “fancier style of representing” advantageous, how could they “confer an evolutionary advantage” and enhance “the organism’s chances of survival” other than by enabling the construction of a more accurate – in other words, truer – account of the environment in which the organism must live and survive?

    “We are jumped-up apes, and our brains were only designed to understand the mundane details of how to survive in the stone-age African savannah.” Richard Dawkins

    Those brains that were at one time adapted to a tree-dwelling life later adapted to ground-dwelling. I seriously doubt that, once on the ground, those ape ancestors still believed they were swinging from branch to branch. Later, still using much the same brain, they became tribes of hunter-gatherers, then settled in villages and grew crops, then built cities and city-states and then nation states and then empires and so on. All using a brain that was originally “only designed to understand the mundane details of how to survive in the stone-age African savannah”. Seems to me that’s a remarkably flexible and adaptable organ that is well worth the large amount of resources we invest in maintaining it. And it’s capable of whole lot more than playing Tarzan, including trying to work out what the world is really like.

    Evolutionary materialists have a severe epistemological dilemma: If their propositions about the universe are true, there would be no way for us to know they are true. Evolutionary materialism saws off the epistemological branch on which it attempts to sit.

    There is no epistemological dilemma. If it were true that there is no way to determine whether a proposition is true then there is no way to determine whether it’s false either, so we have no way of knowing if false beliefs improve our chances of survival over true beliefs. But that isn’t the case. Science proceeds in part by constructing hypotheses, theories or models which are then tested by being compared with what we can observe of the reality they purport to describe. The extent to which they found to correspond with that reality is the degree to which they can be said to be true. Note I wrote “degree” and “extent”. There is no expectation in science of absolute truth, just the hope of an ever-closer approximation of what is actually there.

    Darwin, as a scientist, was well aware he wasn’t writing some holy text but rather a scientific theory – provisional, incomplete and imperfect – which, unlike stories of talking serpents and people being turned into pillars of salt, could be tested against observation. No scientist welcomes the prospect of his life’s work being overturned but the good ones, like Darwin, allow for the possibility. That’s why he wrote:

    If numerous species, belonging to the same genera or families, have really started into life all at once, the fact would be fatal to the theory to descent with slow modification though natural selection.

  39. 39
    Barry Arrington says:

    Sev
    “Sometimes, yes”

    And thereby you give away the store. I am surprised that you do not understand this. It does not have to be all of the time for the argument to be valid.

  40. 40
    mike1962 says:

    Seversky: There is no epistemological dilemma… There is no expectation in science of absolute truth, just the hope of an ever-closer approximation of what is actually there.

    Well then, congrats. You are a mere pragmatist and not a materialist. A very respectable position.

  41. 41
    AnimatedDust says:

    Charles, o/t, but do you have a blog or something that has more of your biblical scholarship? Very impressed by the depth of your knowledge.

  42. 42
    Charles says:

    AnimatedDust @ 41

    Thank you for the encouragement. I just now saw your earlier request on another thread.

    See “FFT*: Charles unmasks…” Comment 513

  43. 43

    A/mats generally hate to be linked with communist murderers such as Stalin and Mao…but the link is inescapable. One could even argue that Stalin and Mao were actually more honest about their a/mat faith, and thus more willing to take it to its logical conclusions.

  44. 44
    john_a_designer says:

    To have any kind of rational discussion or debate you need to begin with some kind of common ground. With a logical argument common ground begins with a factually true premise or proposition. If you don’t begin there all you are doing is talking past or over the top of each other.

    So far on the last few threads related to this topic our atheist interlocutors have offered nothing approaching common ground, despite the fact the proposition that Barry is putting forward– ”that natural selection selects for fitness, not for truth”— is something other atheists (who he has quoted) accept as true.

    What we have gotten so far is nothing more than tag team obstruction and obfuscation. That doesn’t win arguments but it does prevent them from ever taking place. However, in the end they do win, but at what cost? It ends up being a triumph of irrationality over rationality. Of course, ironically that proves that atheism is not, nor has ever been, about reason. It is really nothing but nihilism which is just another way to say it is nothing about nothing.

    What we see going on today on the internet is the equivalent of the shout downs we are seeing on college campuses. That’s bad news for democracy, culture and society because that is the kind of thinking that leads to Orwellian totalitarianism.

  45. 45
    es58 says:

    This discussion is reminiscent of the debate over the law of noncontradiction that led to a schism a number of years ago

  46. 46
    kairosfocus says:

    ES58, it is precisely because we have an ill-advised rejection of coherence as a criterion of rationality and accessing reality that we have the willingness to entertain the sort of logic with a swivel, one standard for thee another for me attitude that is reflected in the selective hyperskepticism BA is here exposing. Loss of contact with reality — yes, a precursor to utter mass insanity — is a direct consequence of such incoherence. What we have here is the induced mass rejection of a plumbline, self evident first principle of right reason, leading to setting up a crooked yardstick as the reference standard for what is straight and accurate. The result of such a move is that what is genuinely straight and accurate will never meet the test of the crooked yardstick. However, for the manipulators out there, that is a highly desirable feature, not a bug, as it locks their victims in to their agendas and locks out correction — leading to the insanity of going ever faster down a march of folly while expecting things to get better and better despite warning signs. I put it to you that evolutionary materialism is exactly such a march of self-referentially incoherent, amoral, might and manipulation make “right,” “truth,” “knowledge,” “Science” [often presented as a settled consensus of the experts passing the no true Scotsman test . . .], “justice,” etc folly. We would be well advised to instead go back to principles that are natural plumblines and to purge our thought of crooked yardsticks that cannot pass the test of the plumbline. This, of course, a hell-bent generation will not do, despite abundant and growing warnings of crisis and collapsing cliff edges that perhaps are already precipitating us into civilisation-level disaster. KF

  47. 47
    critical rationalist says:

    Not a single one of them picked up on the seemingly rather obvious point that, in principle, statements like Churchlands’ apply to Darwinian theory as much as they do to truth claims materialists deride or hold in contempt, such as belief in God.

    I was testing to see if – given this uncontroversial aspect of the theory – any of the materialists would express even the tiniest, slightest, minutest doubts regarding the truth of their own views. 

    Sure I did, Barry. My response was, “so what?” “Idea X isn’t justified” isn’t a valid criticism. The fact that an idea might be false is not a good criticism because it’s equally applicable to all ideas, including Darwinism.

    Despite being false, Newton’s laws of motion contain truth in that it is a close approximation to GR. Close enough to launch space craft. Nor did we have to redesign bridges and buildings, despite the fact that GR suggests something completely different is happening, in reality.

    We also know that GR, QM or both contains errors because we have no working theory of gravity. Not to mention that all theories are incomplete. That is criticism of the philosophical idea that Knowledge is justified, true belief.

    It’s unclear how the above isn’t an example of “doubts regarding the truth of their own views”. What other response were you expecting that would express that?

    Exactly like the Darwinians who comment on UD’s posts, Darwin had “selective horrid doubt.”  He doubted whether his mind could contemplate God.

    Being supposedly infinite, that seems like a rather reasonable doubt. In fact, that’s why I’m an agnostic. It’s unclear why my intuitions about God, or anyone else, are actually correct, should he actually exist. They would start out as a guess and God could have just as well created the universe 30 seconds ago, for some good reason we cannot comprehend. (Once you open the door to that idea, you’ve given up the store, so to speak) Apparently, I’m more open minded about God than theists here. God, having no needs or limitations is easily varied. How would we go about criticizing any such ideas about God?

    But enough about me. How about you, Berry. Do you doubt that your mind knows that God values and demands of us, such as what consenting adults do in their own bedrooms? Specifically, how have you managed to infallibly identify an infallible source of knowledge? How have you managed to infallibly interpret it? Theory always comes first. I’ve only asked this question, what, a dozen times? Let me guess, “that’s just what some designer must have wanted”?

    But he apparently never entertained the slightest doubt that his mind could contemplate deep time and the origin of species. Isn’t that odd?

    That’s an interesting theory. How might you go about criticizing that idea? Have you even tried?

    BA: C.S. Lewis understood what Darwin apparently did not (or at least did not acknowledge).  He wrote:

    ?If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents—the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts—i.e. of materialism and astronomy—are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents.

    Thank Zeus the field of epistemology is not limited to the intuitions of C.S. Lewis.

    Thoughts represent knowledge, and knowledge plays a causal role in being retained when embedded in a storage medium like our brains or in the genomes of organism. Bains evolved to orchestrate movement, which requires storing knowledge about the details of a movement and when it should be performed, etc. Once you get that, you get a storage medium. And, like organisms and designers, knowledge is itself well adapted to serve a purpose. You cannot modify bits on a flash drive without significantly reducing their ability to serve that purpose. And as you so eloquently put it, when our ideas are false they slam into the wall of reality.

    However, this doesn’t help if we can just modify our ideas in an ad-hoc fashion when they conflict with observations. In fact, this is why most of human history was like Oog’s, in that their lives were dominated by useful rules of thumb that bore little to no resemblance to the truth.

    So what changed? Our preference for long chains of hard to vary explanations. Specifically, a preference for explanations cannot be modified without significantly reducing their ability to explain the phenomena in question. So, when those theories slam into the wall of reality, their proponents have no where to go.

    For example, compare the Greek myth of the seasons and our current day explanation for the seasons, of which the latter consists of a long chain of hard to vary, independently formed explanations about the rotation of the earth, the amount of heat received at an angle, nuclear reactions in stars, that a spinning sphere tends to retain its tilt, etc. Should one of those links of the latter run into the wall of reality, It cannot be easily changed, without removing its ability to explain the seasons. As such, there is no where for its proponents to go. This is apposed to the Greek myth, which can always be modified because it is easily varied without reducing it’s ability to explain the seasons. So, being found false by observations wouldn’t have got the Greeks one jot close, because their explanation was bad (easily varied).

    In the case of creationism, the explanation for the growth knowledge is supernatural. In the case of ID, the explanation is utterly absent and in the case of induction, it is irrational. These are bad explanations (easily varied)

    To quote this TED talk.

    That the truth consists of hard to vary assertions about reality is the most important fact about the physical world. It’s a fact that is, itself, unseen, yet impossible to vary.

    Tell me, Barry, if the truth does not consist of hard to vary assertions about reality, then what does the truth consist of?

  48. 48
    Origenes says:

    CR: “Idea X isn’t justified” isn’t a valid criticism. The fact that an idea might be false is not a good criticism …

    “Idea X isn’t justified” is not synonymous to “that idea might be false”.

    CR: … because it’s equally applicable to all ideas …

    No it is not. Some ideas are justified. Some ideas cannot be wrong — are self-evident.

    Here some examples:
    1. A=A
    2. I act therefore I am
    3. Torturing an infant for personal pleasure is unmitigated evil.

  49. 49
    Origenes says:

    CR @47

    //follow-up #48//

    CR: Not to mention that all theories are incomplete.

    Yet another self-refuting statement, because:

    1. All theories are incomplete.

    therefore

    2. The theory ‘all theories are incomplete’ is itself incomplete.

    3. In order for the theory ‘all theories are incomplete’ to be incomplete, there must be a theory that is not incomplete — otherwise it would be complete.

    Therefore

    C: Not all theories are incomplete. QED.

    CR: That is criticism of the philosophical idea that Knowledge is justified, true belief.

    Sure, but unfortunately for you it is not a valid criticism, since it is self-refuting.

  50. 50
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    No it is not. Some ideas are justified. Some ideas cannot be wrong — are self-evident.

    Here some examples:
    1. A=A
    2. I act therefore I am
    3. Torturing an infant for personal pleasure is unmitigated evil.

    And how did you come up with that list of supposed “basic beliefs” out of all “non-basic beliefs”?

    You had to criticize them against other beliefs. You tried to criticize them and those criticism failed. This is not the same as being immune to criticism. IOW, basic beliefs are just beliefs that we currently have no good criticism of.

  51. 51
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    You seem to have confused true with complete. (And, see that above caveats in regards to truth)

    Furthermore, the theory that all theories are incomplete isn’t reductionist in nature. Rather it is emergent and about limitations about what a “theory” is defined. For example, the incompleteness of a theory does not include the theory of atoms, or quantum mechanics, etc. yet they are necessary. So, that theory is incomplete.

    Emergent explanations are mostly self contained. You can make tea despite the fact that the motions of water molecules are essentially intractable. Despite being emergent they depend on other aspects of physics, but the theory of how to make tea only needs to know high level details, such as the volume of the pot and the wattage of the heating element, etc. But they depend on a great number of details. So, it is incomplete in that sense. That explanations can exist at different levels indicates that there are different levels that they do not exist at and do not explain.

    The fact that we have different fields of science indicates that theories are themselves incomplete.

    We have no theory of everything and may never will.

  52. 52
    Origenes says:

    CR @50:

    According to you every idea can be criticized — every “idea might be false”.
    I pointed out some ideas that cannot be false (#48). Your response is that these are “just beliefs that we currently have no good criticism of.”

    Question: do you realize that stating “there is good criticism of all beliefs” is just another way of saying that all beliefs are wrong in some sense? Do I have to explain (again) how that, applied to itself, is yet another self-refuting statement?

    – – – – –
    CR @51

    CR: You seem to have confused true with complete.

    Not at all. Let me explain it again: If a theory is not complete it leaves something out. If the theory “all theories are incomplete” is incomplete and thus leaves something out, then there must be a complete theory.

    For example, the incompleteness of a theory does not include the theory of atoms, or quantum mechanics, etc. yet they are necessary. So, that theory is incomplete.

    Not so. For instance, the law of identity is not incomplete because it does not contain a description of atoms.

    We have no theory of everything and may never will.

    Suppose one day we have a theory of everything which explains it all, will you then go on and repeat your mantra: “every theory is incomplete”?

  53. 53
    Origenes says:

    CR @ 47

    Thoughts represent knowledge …. ,

    Knowledge presupposes a knower, as thoughts presuppose a thinker. From an ontological point of view, neither knowledge nor thoughts have independent existence. Knowledge is well warranted, credibly true belief held by a knower. Clearly knowledge is a subset of thoughts — as we all know, thoughts are not restricted to true beliefs and can be about anything.

    … and knowledge plays a causal role in being retained when embedded in a storage medium like our brains or in the genomes of organism.

    If there is knowledge in the genomes of organisms, then who is the knower? Who holds this knowledge?

    Knowledge is objective in that is independent of belief or a knowing subject.

    Utter nonsense.

    In the case of creationism, the explanation for the growth knowledge is supernatural. In the case of ID, the explanation is utterly absent …

    More utter nonsense. An intelligent agent explains the growth of knowledge. See for instance the Manhattan Project. We are goal-directed, pattern-seeking and pattern-inventing agents, who find solutions to search problems.

  54. 54
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    “there is good criticism of all beliefs”

    I didn’t say that. I said that what you call basic beliefs that cannot be wrong are actually believes that we currently have no good criticism of. We might in the future, but we currently lack good criticism. For example, the idea 2 + 2 = 4 is a idea that we currently lack good criticisms of. We cannot think of ways to modify it without signficantlly reducing its ability to explain the phenomena in question.

    …then there must be a complete theory

    Theories are explantions about how the world work, in reality, designed to solve a problem. They do not exist out there for us to observe. We guess and then test our guesses. It’s unclear how we can propose theories to solve problems if, well, we do not propose them all. Or encounter them. Furthermore, errors in theories go unnoticed for decades, if we even notice them at all.

    And if answers to problems lead to even better problems, which lead to even better problems, etc. then how can we propose them all? Why should we actually end up with a “complete” theory? Why is there fields of biology, physics, etc. Some are emergent. We have a theory that allows us to make tea, despite the fact that the motion of all molecules of water in the kettle is untraceable, along with the initial conditions inside and outside the kettle. We can make progress, despite it being incomplete in this sense.

    For instance, the law of identity is not incomplete because it does not contain a description of atoms.

    The law of identity is a tautology. Nor does it explain how you know A is actually an A. If A is an A, then it’s an A. Is a emerald green or bleen? (See the new riddle of induction)

    Suppose one day we have a theory of everything which explains it all, will you then go on and repeat your mantra: “every theory is incomplete”?

    And how might we achieve that? The idea that we can have complete theories is dependent on your epistemology view, which we disagree on.

    Knowledge presupposes a knower, as thoughts presuppose a thinker. From an ontological point of view, neither knowledge nor thoughts have independent existence.

    So, you’re arguing by definition? That’s a fallacy. I’m using the term “knowelge” in constructor theory terms, in that it is information that plays a causal role in being retained. It is the ultimate generalization of a constructor.

    Only people can create explantory knowledge, because only people can create explantions. However, both neo-Darwnism and people can create non-explantory knowledge.

    As I’ve pointed out, merely being intelligent isn’t sufficient.

    I’ve already criticized the idea that intelligent agent is sufficient.

  55. 55
    Origenes says:

    CR@

    CR: We guess and then test our guesses. It’s unclear how we can propose theories to solve problems if, well, we do not propose them all.

    How do we make guesses? What is the origin of guesses?

  56. 56
    critical rationalist says:

    @origenes

    We mix, mutate, vary background knowledge in ways that are not based on sensory input. The content of our theories does not come from observations, because they are not out there for us to observe. And that background knowledge we work with is itself theory laden as well. So, none of our knowledge comes from authorize sources, like experience. It has no foundation.

    But by all means, feel free to explain how we could obtain the contents of theories from observations, in detail. This is a well known problem and if you solve it, you’d be quite famous!

  57. 57
    Origenes says:

    CR @56

    We mix, mutate, vary background knowledge in ways that are not based on sensory input. … it has no foundation.

    You make it sound like some sort of random process — akin to random mutations in DNA. But, how does that work? Let’s see. Let me try to come up with some theory in the way you describe. Do let me know if my attempt is mixed and varied enough:

    Theories problem guess to decades, furthermore fact biology, physics, etc. inside and outside the kettle. There fields go unnoticed for decades, progress in motion of all molecules of water.

    How about that?
    Are you sure that intelligence, which you studiously avoid mentioning, has nothing to do with “guesses”?

  58. 58
    critical rationalist says:

    “Not based on sensory input”, means the contents of our theories does not come from experience as opposed to being completely random.

    Again, we start out with a problem. What problem are you trying to solve?

    What conjectured state of affairs, in reality, are you proposing solves said problem? Furthmore, you omitted the criticism phase, etc.

    Not taking ideas seriously seems to be a common occurrence here.

  59. 59
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    But by all means, feel free to explain how we could obtain the contents of theories from observations, in detail. This is a well known problem and if you solve it, you’d be quite famous!

    Still waiting….

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