One of the major features of UD, is the impact of commenters. So on occasion, it is useful to do a guest-post, here by Silver_Asiatic. And, if you think the semi-humorous suggestions below are strawman caricatures to be skewered, why not try the pattern we find ever so often, as is responded to here in the UD WACs — often to no effect as the strawmen are oh so rhetorically effective? So, please take the following as a light-hearted version of “sauce for the goose . . . “:
SA: >>Over the past week, UD readers reflected on an aphorism, by News Desk’s, Denyse O’Leary: “Prediction: Increasingly, logic will be seen as a covert form of theism.”
Along with some comic absurdity, the phrase carries hidden truths that immediately captured the imagination of the ID community. The linkage between theism and logic itself is a fascinating concept worth exploring and the phrase seen as a covert form – hints at the paranoia that we’re quite familiar with. We try to engage a scientific community that adds the word “creationist” to ID, believing that’s enough to frighten people away from the design proposal. Academics are scrubbing teleological language (like the word “designed”) from biology papers for fear of letting the “divine foot in the door” so the notion that our opponents are searching for covert signals is easy to accept.
Yes, logic can be a scary thing since it requires distinctions and it is a path to the truth.
The truth then points to certain obligations and this can be a challenge that even the best of us will shy away from at times. The challenge of theism is very much the same.
As it has been said, predictions are tough, especially when they’re about the future. In this case, as Kairosfocus made clear in a follow-up, we have it a bit easier since we’re predicting what already happened.
In that follow-up, KF invited me to offer a guest post exploring this topic in a more light-hearted spirit. With that, I’ll offer a more serious commentary mixed with some non-sequiturs and tongue-in-cheek observations which are merely the result of taking Darwinian theory for what it is.
My initial purpose with this essay was to give evolution some credit for its own world view – to attempt to trace the development-path of a feature of human life, in this case logic, from its precursor through intermediates to the mature form we see today.
Along with that, I wanted to look at the questions: Why is there a Darwinian fear of the Law of Identity? Why would logic become an enemy?
Perhaps we can start by noting that with evolution, everything is in a state of becoming. The entire universe is a condition of a muddy ‘might be’. Aside from fixed starting points like molecules (which concedes an undeserved assumption to evolutionism already) everything is transitioning to something else. While logic requires firm distinctions, evolution proposes that mutations are always working to bring about entirely new species, and therefore the organisms we see today are merely the precursors of something entirely different. Inorganic compounds will become living organisms. A pre-human was a mammal that was going to be a human. An ancestral form of a bird was just a step on the development path. Today’s species are transitionals to something else tomorrow. The Law of Identity? In evolutionary terms, “a bird is not a bird”.
So, perhaps this is why the idea that we should distinguish between one thing and another is met with resistance.
Life itself seems to have logic built-in.
Plants need light to grow.
Plants can move towards light
Therefore, when there is a light source near a plant, the plant will …
There’s a logical answer to C.. An animist, perhaps, might conclude that the plant draws a conclusion and chooses to move towards the light. That may be so.
But what we don’t see are illogical plants that move away from the light and thereby kill themselves. Why not?
So this is a problem (among hundreds of others) for evolutionism. Why do things want to survive? What good is it? Why shouldn’t things just die and return to inorganic matter, a state which seems offer quite a stable and peaceful existence?
When we begin to ask “why”, however, we start down the frightening path of reasoning, and therefore we need to use logic. So to answer the question, we try to reason it out:
Living organisms seek nourishment to survive. Why?
Living things do whatever evolution tells them to do.
Evolution told all living things to seek nourishment in order to live for a certain number of years.
Therefore, all living things seek nourishment.
There’s a “logical” answer to the question.
But I think I’ve spotted a problem. Living things only survive for a few years, or some decades at best. Why bother with that when they could be non-living matter and exist for centuries or longer?
Again, that’s easy when we use logic to answer the question:
Living things do whatever evolution wants them to do
Evolution wants living things to survive for a certain number of years and then die
Therefore, living things survive for a limited period of time and then die
This is excellent. But again, there is one big problem: we’re using logic to solve these issues, and our task, ultimately, has been to explain the origin of logic. Evolution must have evolved logic somehow. There was a time when logic did not exist, then perhaps through some lucky mutations and reproductive advantages, logic evolved.
We don’t know, exactly, when it happened, but we can always be certain that “there was plenty of time for logic to evolve”. One of the great things about evolution is that there is always plenty of time. We might have a margin of error, plus or minus 500 million years or so – but it still works quite well.
If logic evolved, then evolution didn’t need logic to work its magic. Early evolutionists like Darwin made the mistake of thinking that evolution meant “progress” –through evolution, things would improve and move to greater perfection. In that view, evolution, like a logical syllogism, moved through premises to conclusion.
But since then we’ve learned that there is no progress in evolution. Things don’t necessarily “improve” or become more sophisticated. There is no direction to the process. We don’t move from premise to conclusion. We don’t go from simple to complex. We don’t build on one truth by adding another. Blind, purposeless natural processes do not have true-and-false categories. Evolution doesn’t care about such things – the process is indifferent. It just “does whatever it will do”.
So, from this vantage point, proving the transitional path of “the world before logic” to the evolution of logic is a challenge.
I need food to survive
Over there is some food.
In the illogical universe, there are a great number of answers one can use for “C”. In fact, in probabilistic terms, the number of answers evolution can produce for us is infinite.
To complete the syllogism, we basically would need to take all of the possible answers, in all the possible language, syntaxes, alphabets and codes – including those that don’t presently exist – and randomize them – and then select something to fill in the conclusion.
The chances that you’ll get an answer like “go get that food” is 1 out of an infinite count. But, thankfully, living organisms, lacking logic, worked through those odds and came up with the right answer and thus logic was born. This all makes perfect sense when you really don’t think about it that much.
The most difficult part of this essay was trying to imagine the irrational, pre-logic world and then trying to make a non-logical argument from that starting point. The first thing one discovers is that irrationality is not that interesting. It just offers a banal, pointless set of gibberish to work with. Absurdly pointless strings of random letters are not worth looking at. Even conceding some syntax, listing a set of unconnected nouns; horseshoe, cupcake, rolodex, armpit, donkey kong, lumberjack, rhododendron, gunpowder is not a very worthwhile or even amusing exercise.
Besides this, one has to make so many concessions to logic and reason – by granting a language and syntax and at least a partial framework for logical processes – that It’s like trying to model randomness by setting up parameters, or setting up a natural selection generator that fixes mutations to a target phrase (Me Thinks it is a Weasel). It feels like cheating.
In the irrational model, we really shouldn’t even use sentences.
An understandable sentence uses words
I want to write an understandable sentence.
Therefore I should use …
I could use words or non-words, letters or non-letters. This just gets painful.
An Appeal for Cooperative Misunderstanding
In praising the wonders of irrationality and discovering how the irrational universe accidentally evolved the sophisticated reasoning-system of logic, I could end this essay with a jumble of letters. That should be sufficient proof that non-logic could evolve logic. It just works that way, somehow.
But instead, I should offer and appeal for dialogue and understanding.
First of all, our opponents will say “All of this is foolishness and ignorance. Logic didn’t evolve. It was always there, built into the universe.”
Instead of seeking the origin of this feature, we should just take the materialist’s word for it. Apparently, we don’t need science in this case. “Logic was there. Deal with it.”
But this also causes a bit of a problem:
Everything is the product of natural laws working on matter
Logic is a natural law, always present in the universe
Therefore, logic is the product of a natural law working on matter
It’s starting to feel like I’m moving in a circle. Perhaps logic came before the universe.
Nothing can come from nothing
Before the universe existed, there was nothing
Therefore, logic existed before the universe came into being.
That’s a bit awkward also. Perhaps a multiverse can rescue us:
Because of its fine-tuning, unknown mechanisms and complexity, the origin of our universe is inexplicable in materialist terms
Because of unknowable complexity and mechanisms, the origin of a multiverse is even more inexplicable.
Therefore, a multiverse is a good explanation for the origin of our universe.
Maybe it’s just better to conclude, “Dawkins said it, I believe it, that settles it.”
In the Loop – and Getting out of it.
In a second and final appeal for understanding, I think nobody argues in favor of irrationality, because in order to do that they have to use reason and it becomes embarrassing to rely on the very thing one is claiming to be unnecessary or inferior. As a general rule, we shouldn’t want to embarrass people, but sometimes it is unavoidable.
We should have some sympathy for the Darwinist because it might seem that since people choose the Darwinian worldview as a rebellion against truth and reality and a rational world, they are thereby having a lot of fun. Darwinism means never having to say you’re sorry. It means “I can do whatever I want”. So, while this might seem like it would be a lot of fun, it’s actually a very difficult condition to live within. We saw some indications of that earlier. Circular arguments can make one’s head hurt. If not at the beginning, certainly after the thousandth cycle through (hit CTRL-Break!) it can cause some serious neurological damage. For example, we may choose to be relativistic about the use of the alphabet. Randomly use spots instead of English language. But spots themselves limit us to a distinction from non-spots so we end at the molecular level, but molecules are distinct from non-molecules. We really need something that is a shapeless and formless, but even then it remains a thing – we need a non-thing, a quantum thing. Something that exists and does not exist at the same time.
This is why we refer to Darwinism as insanity. Again, it sounds like this condition would be very amusing, like a condition of mild inebriation or laughing-gas, but it really isn’t funny or enjoyable for the participant at all. Insanity, as anyone who spent time with the mentally ill knows (as I have, sincerely), is a painful condition. A rebellion against norms, against truth, against reality that Darwinism demands causes not only entrapment in those painful mental-loops, but an isolation from the human community (subjectivism in terms of language or the meaning of any communication). People can “do whatever they want” but there can be no consistency and no logical validation in the relativist view.
Can we choose to “always negate the truth”? The subjectivist will claim “yes”. Accepting or rejecting the truth is a subjective decision, perfectly logical in either case.
Ok, a new moral principle “I will always reject the truth”.
Q. Fine. X=X True or False?
A. X=X. False
Q. So X does not equal X?
A. Logically True and therefore False. Actually False and therefore True.
Q. So, X=X is True and False?
A. Yes and No
Just try to decide what time to out of bed in the morning with that construct.
Perhaps a similar moral principle would be “I will never make a deliberate choice but only do what evolution has destined me to do.”
I choose to never make a choice.
So, I will not choose that.
I choose to not choose to choose.
I will not choose to not choose to not choose to choose.
I choose to not choose to not choose to not choose to choose.
I will not choose to not choose to not choose to not choose to choose.
Behold the wonders of subjectivism.
I marvel at the prospect of filling a whole page with such idiocy – or even filling hundreds of pages. Before the advent of personal computers, writers had to type on paper. Before, that logicians had to write their syllogisms by hand. So they never really got the chance to show what an endless logical loop looked like. Now, today, with the miracle of “copy/paste”, I could go on for days like this– extending it out to thousands of iterations, just for the sheer mindlessness of it. But I will spare us …
I think we can understand why so many Darwinists respond with anger to the distinctions and rational principles that are the foundations of Western Theism. Just physically, they’re suffering from headaches. Who wouldn’t be miserable in that condition?
Some final thoughts, to help us in discussing these matters …
Arguments Proving the Superiority of Irrationality:
“And that’s a scientific fact”
A. Rational arguments are bad because they arrive at conclusions about reality.
B. Irrationality is superior because it does not need any validation in reality.
C. Therefore, I am right and I win … and you will always be wrong.
That will win arguments every time.
We might be able to take it farther:
A. The purpose of things can only be found in their origin, e.g. why they came into existence.
B. Human beings came into existence through a blind, accidental, purposeless process that did not have them in mind.
C. Therefore, human beings can create their own purposes and I will just laugh at anybody who claims that materialism provides no meaning or purpose.
Isn’t that true?
Skepticism seems to work well, as long as it is applied in a selective manner. In other words, we should be skeptical about things we don’t like. But again, if Richard Dawkins said it, we believe it, ,etc.
A. In order to be considered intelligent, one must skeptically question everything.
B. Anyone who questions claims about evolutionary theory is obviously ignorant and stupid.
C. Therefore, in order to be considered intelligent, we should never question evolution.
This works surprisingly well!
A. Physical matter has no moral nature (no “ought) – it just is.
B. Everything is reducible to physical matter.
C. You cannot derive an ought from an is.
D. Therefore, we ought to be morally offended when someone thinks that materialism is amoral.
It’s pretty convincing.
A. Purposeless, non-rational, natural processes cannot design things because design means purpose (“by design”) and requires intelligent/rational intent.
B. Nature has the overwhelming appearance of having been designed for a purpose.
C. Therefore, it’s obvious that there is no evidence of intelligent design in nature>>
If your head is spinning, have pity on the poor Darwinist! his, must be spinning all the time. END