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Old 01-24-2010, 02:50 PM
 
Location: South Wales, Yes, I'm, back!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Matrix View Post
Before I have a coronary....please rethink this post.

You're giving me time? Thanks for that. Philosophy is not a timed event. I'm giving you all the time you need to understand the argument. I'll give you a lifetime. How's that?

I'm not on the clock, to answer "in a few days" or "admit defeat". It's not my argument. And even if my inept attempts to summarize his argument are shot with holes, that doesn't mean HIS argument falls prey to the same difficulties. And from what I can see, you don't understand his argument enough to come out with sweeping conclusions about how he actually has shown "monumental implications" for theism.
Post rethought. I withdraw unreservedly. You came back quickly and with a full answer. I was just that interested that I wanted to keep the post afloat. I apologise for any suggestion that you might 'admit defeat'. You haven't done that.

Last edited by AREQUIPA; 01-24-2010 at 03:01 PM..
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Old 01-24-2010, 03:28 PM
 
Location: South Wales, Yes, I'm, back!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Matrix View Post
Ok. Let me try again. Are you familiar with Descartes' Meditations? Are you familiar with his famous "evil demon" doubt? In short: how do you know that there isn't an evil demon who is feeding you false beliefs? If this is true, what can you trust? What can you know to be true? How do you know that you have any true beliefs? Any evidence you have that seems to indicate there is no such demon would be suspect, since the problem is that you can't trust your beliefs--you can't trust your cognitive faculties to deliver reliably true beliefs, since the evil demon could be the cause. So, there is no easy way out of the problem. Once you raise the doubt, there is no way for you to get rid of it.
Yes. I am familiar with the invisible man under the chair argument. (1)

Quote:
This is similar to the challenge Plantinga throws at the naturalists. Once the doubt about your cognitive faculties is raised, then there is no way out of the circularity. There is no way to overcome the doubt about the reliability of your faculties.



Of course he's not saying that empirically scientific evidence is invalid (I'm not either). It's only conditionally invalid: if you belief in naturalism and evolution, then you have a defeater for all your beliefs (which would include evidence generated through empirical verification).
And that's where I'm saying that the argument either doesn't go far enough or it is is irrelevant to anything as practical as the evolution of the human mind, whether there is reason to believe in the supernatural or about atheism.

I agree that just saying 'I believe there are no gods, ghosts or supernatual entities or events' is unreliable, both because the human mind has a defeater, as you say, but mainly because there is no evidence to go on.

However, when a corpus of empirically viable scientific evidence is built up and conclusions are arrived at - especially those which are more to do with not believing in entities for which there is no good evidence (the supernatural and gods) than in believing in something called naturalism or atheism - then the defeater becomes a cipher. It is no more than someone playing the 'science doesn't know everything' card.

It doesn't, but what it does know, we can give some credit to.

I don't deny that there are human conventions and limitations. I have to leave to others abstruse arguments about the validity of logic and the weight of evidence. Some smart cookies said the world was round and the earth was not the centre of the universe. I and you and Alvin accept that and so, where naturalism - belief is based on that - that is, almost entirely - I'm considering the defeater defeated.

(1) The other day, beneath my chair,
I saw a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today.
I wish to hell he'd go away.

Last edited by AREQUIPA; 01-24-2010 at 03:45 PM.. Reason: (1) couldn't resist it
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Old 01-24-2010, 06:31 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_argument_against_naturalism
"Thus, Plantinga argued, the probability that our minds are reliable under a conjunction of philosophical naturalism and evolution is low or inscrutable. Therefore, to assert that naturalistic evolution is true also asserts that one has a low or unknown probability of being right. This, Plantinga argued, epistemically defeats the belief that naturalistic evolution is true and that ascribing truth to naturalism and evolution is internally dubious or inconsistent."
My response to this is, if we look at how reliable our perception is, we find that it is full of error. At the very least we find inconsistency of belief among individuals, even among those who experience the same event there will be dissenting beliefs. We know perception is subjective, there are sounds beyond our hearing range and light beyond our visual range.

So, absent a reliable perception that delivers accurate reality to our beliefs, we must conclude that there is no creator of such a reliable perception.

What is the alternative? naturalism is not the only alternative -- there could be a creator of an imperfect perception; but this has the same defeater as naturalism, for the same reason.

Thus it seems we are going around in circles, merely showing that all beliefs are defeated. As Michael Ruse said, "If we are all in an illusion then it makes no sense to talk of illusion, for we have no touchstone of reality to make absolute judgements."
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Old 01-24-2010, 09:06 PM
 
Location: NC, USA
7,089 posts, read 8,499,508 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tricky D View Post
Originally Posted by LogicIsYourFriend True, but a modern problem is that nowadays we have so much (conflicting) knowledge that it is just regarded as an opinion which is counterproductive.
knowledge is not in conflict, it just is. The problem lies in what is sometimes an inaccurate understanding of the knowledge, ie: erroneously believing false data as truth. Not having the capacity to understand and differentiate the knowledge in front of you causes conflict, not the knowledge itself.
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Old 01-25-2010, 04:10 AM
 
Location: South Wales, Yes, I'm, back!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LogicIsYourFriend View Post
My response to this is, if we look at how reliable our perception is, we find that it is full of error. At the very least we find inconsistency of belief among individuals, even among those who experience the same event there will be dissenting beliefs. We know perception is subjective, there are sounds beyond our hearing range and light beyond our visual range.

So, absent a reliable perception that delivers accurate reality to our beliefs, we must conclude that there is no creator of such a reliable perception.

What is the alternative? naturalism is not the only alternative -- there could be a creator of an imperfect perception; but this has the same defeater as naturalism, for the same reason.

Thus it seems we are going around in circles, merely showing that all beliefs are defeated. As Michael Ruse said, "If we are all in an illusion then it makes no sense to talk of illusion, for we have no touchstone of reality to make absolute judgements."
Yes. I'd already touched on that but our pal Matrix implied that it wasn't trying to prove God, so I sidelined that until we'd established that we had unreliable beliefs because of evolution and that science effectively got around such mental limitations.

"the theist does not believe that blind, uncaring forces are ultimately behind the process of evolution. Consequently, she will not believe that her cognitive faculties are the result of blind forces, but instead they are the result of a divinely guided process. And so, the theist may claim her cognitive faculties are reliable, since they are designed by God, who chose to create through the process of evolution." (Original post).

So God is being dragged into the debate. In fact, that's what it is really all about. Plantinga's and Matrix's point is really that theist beliefs are not unreliable, being implanted by God (or a god). Leaving aside the question of whether...no...it can't be left aside; it is basic. Given that all beliefs are subject to a defeater, how can the theists be sure that their belief is reliable?

There is no way. Of course I see the trend of the argument - the naturalist theory has no mechanism for implanting true beliefs - evolution wouldn't do that. God - belief has such a corrective mechanism.

This is all speculative. We need a reality check. Science does that. As you said, the evidence is that all our beliefs are dependent on what hard evidence we have. Even in the early days, caveman knew that, if he put water over fire, it would boil (1). He might be totally wrong about why, but his empirically verified knowledge and repeatability of the experiment made that a reliable belief. True, that isn't an abstract one like god -beliefs. Those are harder to check.

However, unless the proposition that god only implants god beliefs and all the rest are subject to the repeater (2) then we have to ask whether there is any empirically verified evidence that a god has implanted correct beliefs in our mind? The evidence of course says not. We agreed that human beliefs - let's not be unduly selective here - any mental process is likely to go wrong. This also applies to god - beliefs. The whole religion debate has thrown up more evidence than could be needed that theists cannot rely upon their beliefs for correct information any more than non -theists. Even with religion - even the same religion - arguments go on about who is misinterpreting this or that scripture.

Isn't it painfully clear that their belief that God is telling them this or that is as defeated by the defeater as any belief that we have ever had?

Thus the only reliable corpus of information - empirically verified evidence - argues that (when applied to this argument)

(a) the mind evolved because it has evolved defeaters.
(b) evidentially, there is no sign of god - input
(c) therefore evolution is supported, God - belief is not. Naturalism is supported by the evidence and Plantinga's proposition seems a challenge to theism.

Thanks for letting me run through this particular argument a bit ahead of time.

(1) Cavewoman was out hunting.
(2)that particular can of worms can be left until later

Last edited by AREQUIPA; 01-25-2010 at 04:37 AM.. Reason: politically correct cavewomen...corrected the correction...
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Old 01-25-2010, 04:25 AM
 
Location: South Wales, Yes, I'm, back!
16,017 posts, read 8,075,741 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dusty Rhodes View Post
knowledge is not in conflict, it just is. The problem lies in what is sometimes an inaccurate understanding of the knowledge, ie: erroneously believing false data as truth. Not having the capacity to understand and differentiate the knowledge in front of you causes conflict, not the knowledge itself.
It's a good point. However, I think that the 'big picture' helps.

As I argue to those who say 'science is always getting it wrong' there always seems a progress. We rarely, if ever have to say 'we had it all wrong - unravel science/engineering/history/geography back to This point and start again.' We rethink but do not retreat. Within that smug cocoon of confidence we can can discover that man can fly and travel faster than sound, atoms can be splut and God does play dice after all. Black holes and quantum theory may send tremors through the world of knowlege,but it never going to wreck it (1) and even discovering a living fossil stegosaur in Cambodia or Jewish pyramid builders in 1,500 B. C Egypt, is not going to do that.

What we hae (2) is reliable and repeatable, even if we learn that our universe is in a paperweight on a wizard's desk. It makes little practical difference to how our world works.

(1) sorry for the perhaps unfortunate simile - please donate a dollar to Haiti relief.

(2) The noo

Last edited by AREQUIPA; 01-25-2010 at 04:40 AM..
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Old 01-25-2010, 07:47 AM
 
4,823 posts, read 3,639,841 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Matrix View Post
We can move from this to the general conclusion that our faculties are not always reliable for producing true beliefs. But this sort of unreliability is correctable, and does not in itself produce (serious) doubt in our cognitive faculties.
It's all just shades of gray. What we're doing now is questioning who has guessed the correct percent or probability of our beliefs that are correct or reliable. That's a far cry from some sort of sure-fire "defeater" of the concept of naturalism as the argument was originally presented as. And since we're now down to quibbling about numbers, it's time for Plantinga to start coming up with something a bit more concrete than "I think this is likely" or "I think this is unlikely". Actual numbers backed with real research would be a good start.
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Old 01-25-2010, 08:13 AM
 
Location: South Wales, Yes, I'm, back!
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Indeed, that was always the question lurking in the background.

The argument has been on the premise (adequately supported by empirically verified evidence) that human beliefs were not to be trusted and that the logical supposition was they were that way because that was how they evolved. It is further a reasonable supposition that the reason why our belief - producing mechanism produces unreliable beliefs is because it is geared to producing survival - mechanisms, not truth - finding mechanisms.

Now we have already seen our mate matrix somewhat hiving off beliefs from the mechanism (brain) that produces them and leaving the process (evolution) that produced that mechanism out of the dissussion. This already suggests that an artificially restricted area of discussion is being snipped out of what we actually have with the risk of being, frankly, a fiddled proposition.

To sum up, the question is pending of whether the defeater suggestion is valid or is only one of a number of possible ways to account for the evidential fact that our brain processes are by no means reliable. The very basis of Plantinga's proposition is open to question. However, I think that - in fact, I'm pretty sure now - that Plantinga has done more to prove evolution and disprove any god - input than all the red - faced ranting that Dawkins ever did. So I'm happy not to attack the underlying assumptions as yet.
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Old 01-25-2010, 09:09 AM
 
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I only have about a minute to post something. LogicIsYourFriend has another thoughtful post. Arequipa is missing the point. This is not an argument to prove God. Read LogicIsYourFriend's post more carefully.

Something to think about: arguments for the truth/falsity of a thing, contrasted with arguments for the rationality/irrationality of a belief.
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Old 01-25-2010, 09:31 AM
 
Location: South Wales, Yes, I'm, back!
16,017 posts, read 8,075,741 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Matrix View Post
I only have about a minute to post something. LogicIsYourFriend has another thoughtful post. Arequipa is missing the point. This is not an argument to prove God. Read LogicIsYourFriend's post more carefully.
Read your own original post.

"And so, the theist may claim her cognitive faculties are reliable, since they are designed by God, who chose to create through the process of evolution."

And read LogicIsYourFriend's post again

"absent a reliable perception that delivers accurate reality to our beliefs, we must conclude that there is no creator of such a reliable perception." (underlining mine)

And try to comprehend my post. IF you are not dragging god into it, Plantiga's argument collaspes anyway. IF you are dragging God into it (and the post above suggests that you are) then that aspect falls to the ground, too. Even if you or even Plantinga is not dragging God into it, your post makes it clear that the proposition has implications about god -input. Even if you and Plantiga have not considered them, you have no business to tell me that I shouldn't.

Quote:
Something to think about: arguments for the truth/falsity of a thing, contrasted with arguments for the rationality/irrationality of a belief.
Do you think that atheists haven't thought about this? The rationality/irrationaity of any idea (whether you call it 'belief' or something else) is dependent on how true or false it seems to be. Whether it is a practical or conceptual idea or belief, the bottom line is the same - what evidential or logical support does it have?

Last edited by AREQUIPA; 01-25-2010 at 10:07 AM..
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