Home » Humor, Intelligent Design » [quote mine] Charles Darwin: “all has been intelligently designed”

[quote mine] Charles Darwin: “all has been intelligently designed”

From Letter 3154 — Darwin, C. R. to Herschel, J. F. W., 23 May [1861]

One cannot look at this Universe with all living productions & man without believing that all has been intelligently designed

Charles Darwin, 1861

I think that would make a perfect textbook sticker.

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220 Responses to [quote mine] Charles Darwin: “all has been intelligently designed”

  1. HT: Nick Matzke for his salesmanship. He can point out here Darwin’s usage of the term “intelligent design” in 1861 and in the same essay say “intelligent design” was the invention of creationists in 1989.

  2. SCordova: “I think that would make a perfect textbook sticker.”

    Or a T-Shirt, with a picture of Darwin!

  3. To provide a bit of context, a little bit more of he letter goes like this:

    “One cannot look at this Universe with all living productions & man without believing that all has been intelligently designed; yet when I look to each individual organism, I can see no evidence of this. For, I am not prepared to admit that God designed the feathers in the tail of the rock-pigeon to vary in a highly peculiar manner in order that man might select such variations & make a Fan-tail; & if this be not admitted (I know it would be admitted by many persons), then I cannot see design in the variations of structure in animals in a state of nature,—those variations which were useful to the animal being preserved & those useless or injurious being destroyed.”

  4. Jack Krebs,

    The post was filed under “humor” and it said “[quote mine]“.

    I think it would be a great T-shirt.

    By the way, Jack, can you explain the fact you tolerate the verbal abuse heaped upon me at KCFS, that you allow your members to refer to me there in the most vulgur terms, and ad hominems.

    Yet you effectively banned me simply quoting Lewontin here:
    Lewontin argues Darwin’s notion of fitness is Obsolete

    Is that the way you reward the hosiptality extended to you here at UD. You trump up false justifications for banning me when there was in fact far more egregious conduct by the Darwinists on your discussion board, and I focused on relevant science issues.

    You suppress discussion when critiques of Darwinian evolution are more than you and yours can refute.

  5. Sorry, I didn’t see the Humor part. Perhaps it’s my monitor, but the line that lists the category and says Leave a Response is virtually unseeable because the font color is so light. If I had seen the humor part I wouldn’t have responded. My apologies.

  6. 6

    From Jack’s post:

    “…I am not prepared to admit that God designed the feathers in the tail of the rock-pigeon to vary in a highly peculiar manner in order that man might select such variations & make a Fan-tail; & if this be not admitted (I know it would be admitted by many persons), then I cannot see design in the variations of structure in animals in a state of nature,—those variations which were useful to the animal being preserved & those useless or injurious being destroyed.”

    Notice that Darwin doesn’t talk abut what he believes to be true but what he is personally prepared to tolerate. This becomes a bit like Dawkins’ “Argument from Incredulity” where someone proclaims something false because they can’t possibly see how it could be true. In the end, this is no argument at all as the truth of a particular proposition has nothing at all to do with how understandable or personally tolerable it may or may not be to specific individuals.

    Nice try, Jack, but if the universe as a whole is designed (which Darwin seems to admit), then Darwin’s personal incredulity isn’t much of a defeater for the notion of whether or not pigeon feathers are designed.

    The Scubaredneck

  7. From the quote in context, it seems that Darwin was admitting that there is an “Edge of Evolution” somewhere between the universe as a whole and pigeon feathers.

  8. 8

    My apologies to Jack if I pulled the trigger a bit early in my defense of Sal. I was typing my post as Jack was posting his explanation.

    The Scubaredneck

  9. intelligent Design has perplexed me beyond measure

    Charles Darwin, 1861

    And then we have:

    As everyone now knows, even though the ID guys will never admit it, “intelligent design” as such originated in the 1989 ID textbook Of Pandas and People

    Nick Matzke

  10. If I had seen the humor part I wouldn’t have responded. My apologies.

    What about the part about you banning Sal? Any humor there, oh gutless one?

  11. It truly is amazing how Jack Krebs (KCFS) and Wesley Elsberry (AtBC) will allow the supporters of their forums to use the most horrific name calling and ridiculing techniques known to man, yet they ban people like Sal and I for the most insignificant, miniscule comments in comparison.

    Then they have the gall to complain when we moderate their profane, inane, or repetitive comments at our blogs.

    Elsberry is a Christian, but evidently verses like “Be ye kind one to another” only apply to those who agree with his philosophy about life.

    I swear this whole on-line debate is out of control. People are positively nasty to one another. It’s really sad if you think about it.

  12. Sal is not banned at KCFS. Any further discussion about this should take place there, not here, as it really doesn’t pertain to this site at all.

  13. Right…then your friends can fire up the cannons and let loose while you sit back (as usual) and enjoy the fireworks.

  14. More interesting is what lead up to the letter in question.

    “The Law of Higgledy-Piggledy”
    by j

    Charles Darwin, Autobiography, p. 68:

    During my last year at Cambridge I read with care and profound interest Humboldt’s Personal Narrative. This work and Sir J. Herschel’s Introduction to the Study of Natural Philosophy stirred up in me a burning zeal to add even the most humble contribution to the noble structure of Natural Science. No one or a dozen other books influenced me nearly so much as these two.

    Darwin states that his interest in science was due in great measure to John Herschel, eminent astronomer and philosopher of science.

    John Herschel to Charles Lyell:

    Feldhausen, Cape of Good Hope, 20 February 1836.

    My dear Sir,

    I am perfectly ashamed not to have long since acknowledged your present of the new edition of your Geology, a work which I now read for the third time, and every time with increased interest, as it appears to me one of those productions which work a complete revolution in their subject, by altering entirely the point of view in which it must thence-forward be contemplated. You have succeeded, too, in adding dignity to a subject already grand, by exposing to view the immense extent and complication of the problems it offers for solution, and by unveiling a dim glimpse of a region of speculation connected with it, where it seems impossible to venture without experiencing some degree of that mysterious awe which the sybil appeals to, in the bosom of Aeneas, ” on entering the confines of the shades—or what the Maid of Avenel suggests to Halbert Glendinning,

    “He that on such quest would go, must know nor fear nor failing; To coward soul or faithless heart the search were unavailing.”

    Of course I allude to that mystery of mysteries, the replacement of extinct species by others. Many will doubtless think your speculations too bold, but it is as well to face the difficulty at once. For my own part, I cannot but think it an inadequate conception of the Creator, to assume it as granted that his combinations are exhausted upon any one of the theatres of their former exercise, though in this, as in all his other works, we are led, by all analogy, to suppose that he operates through a series of intermediate causes, and that in consequence the origination of fresh species, could it ever come under our cognizance, would be found to be a natural in contradistinction to a miraculous process—although we perceive no indications of any process actually in progress which is likely to issue in such a result.

    In this letter, published in 1838 in the appendix of Charles Babbage’s The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise, we see that John Herschel read and was greatly impressed with Lyell’s masterpiece, The Principles of Geology, and that he considers it to shed light on the area of biological origins. Herschel suggests that it is a natural process; that the process is teleological is implied (“he operates through a series of intermediate causes”).

    Charles Darwin, Autobiography, p. 68:

    I felt a high reverence for Sir J. Herschel, and was delighted to dine with him at his charming house at the C. of Good Hope… He never talked much, but every word which he uttered was worth listening to.

    Darwin dined with Herschel in June 1836. In his journal, Darwin called the occasion “the most memorable event which, for a long period, I have had the good fortune to enjoy.” (I wonder what they talked about.)

    Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species (1859), p. 1:

    When on board H.M.S. ‘Beagle,’ as naturalist, I was much struck with certain facts in the distribution of the inhabitants of South America, and in the geological relations of the present to the past inhabitants of that continent. These facts seemed to me to throw some light on the origin of species — that mystery of mysteries, as it has been called by one of our greatest philosophers. On my return home, it occurred to me, in 1837, that something might perhaps be made out on this question by patiently accumulating and reflecting on all sorts of facts which could possibly have any bearing on it.

    Darwin implicitly gives tribute to Herschel for highlighting the issue of species origination.

    Charles Darwin to John Herschel, 11 November 1859:

    My dear Sir John Herschel,

    I have taken the liberty of directing Murray to send you a copy of my book on the Origin of species, with the hope that you may still retain some interest on this question.— I know that I ought to apologise for troubling you with the volume & with this note (which requires no acknowledgment) but I cannot resist the temptation of showing in this feeble manner my respect, & the deep obligation, which I owe to your Introduction to Natural Philosophy. Scarcely anything in my life made so deep an impression on me: it made me wish to try to add my mite to the accumulated store of natural knowledge.

    With much respect
    I beg leave to remain
    Yours sincerely
    Charles Darwin

    Darwin seeks the approval of Herschel.

    Charles Darwin to Charles Lyell, 23 November 1859:

    Sir J. Herschel, to whom I sent a copy, is going to read my book. He says he leans to the side opposed to me. If you should meet him after he has read me, pray find out what he thinks, for, of course, he will not write; and I should excessively like to hear whether I produce any effect on such a mind.

    Darwin is desperate to find out what Herschel thinks of his book.

    Charles Darwin to Charles Lyell, 12 December 1859:

    I have heard, by roundabout channel, that Herschel says my book “is the law of higgledy-piggledy.” What this exactly means I do not know, but it is evidently very contemptuous. If true this is a great blow and discouragement.

    Herschel has perceived that, in Darwin’s theory, variation and natural selection are both generated by chance. Darwin is offended and upset by Herschel’s sharp characterization.

    John Herschel, Physical Geography of the Globe (1861), p. 12:

    This was written previous to the publication of Mr. Darwin’s work on the Origin of Species, a work which, whatever its merit or ingenuity, we cannot, however, consider as having disproved the view taken in the text. We can no more accept the principle of arbitrary and casual variation and natural selection as a sufficient account, per se, of the past and present organic world, than we can receive the Laputan method* of composing books (pushed à outrance [i.e., to the extreme]) as a sufficient one of Shakespeare and the Principia. Equally in either case an intelligence, guided by a purpose, must be continually in action to bias the directions of the steps of change — to regulate their amount, to limit their divergence, and to continue them in a definite course. We do not believe that Mr. Darwin means to deny the necessity of such intelligent direction. But it does not, so far as we can see, enter into the formula of this law, and without it we are unable to conceive how far the law can have led to the results. On the other hand, we do not mean to deny that such intelligence may act according to a law (that is to say, on a preconceived and definite plan). Such law, stated in words, would be no other than the actual observed law of organic succession; a one more general, taking that form when applied to our own planet, and including all the links of the chain which have disappeared. But the one law is a necessary supplement to the other, and ought, in all logical propriety, to form a part of its enunciation. Granting this, and with some demur as to the genesis of man, we are far from disposed to repudiate the view taken of this mysterious subject in Mr. Darwin’s book.

    In Herschel’s reply to Darwin, he correctly points out that in order for evolutionary processes to generate complex specified information, they must be guided by intelligence.

    Charles Darwin to John Herschel, 23 May 1861:

    Dear Sir John Herschel,

    You must permit me to have the pleasure to thank you for your kind present of your Physical Geography. I feel honoured by your gift, & shall prize this Book with your autograph. I am pleased with your note on my book on species, though apparently you go but a little way with me. The point which you raise on intelligent Design has perplexed me beyond measure; & has been ably discussed by Prof. Asa Gray, with whom I have had much correspondence on the subject. — I am in a complete jumble on the point. One cannot look at this Universe with all living productions & man without believing that all has been intelligently designed; yet when I look to each individual organism, I can see no evidence of this. For, I am not prepared to admit that God designed the feathers in the tail of the rock-pigeon to vary in a highly peculiar manner in order that man might select such variations & make a Fan-tail; & if this be not admitted (I know it would be admitted by many persons), then I cannot see design in the variations of structure in animals in a state of nature,—those variations which were useful to the animal being preserved & those useless or injurious being destroyed. But I ought to apologise for thus troubling you.—

    You will think me very conceited when I say I feel quite easy about the ultimate success of my views, (with much error, as yet unseen by me, to be no doubt eliminated); & I feel this confidence, because I find so many young & middle-aged truly good workers in different branches, either partially or wholly accepting my views, because they find that they can thus group & understand many scattered facts. This has occurred with those who have chiefly or almost exclusively studied morphology, geographical Distribution, systematic Botany, simple geology & palaeontology. Forgive me boasting, if you can; I do so because I shd. value your partial acquiescence in my views, more than that of almost any other human being.—

    Believe me with much respect
    Yours, sincerely & obliged
    Charles Darwin

    Darwin uses the phrase “intelligent design” and effectively threatens Herschel with obsolescence. Herschel does not reply.
    __________

    Herschel, an ID proponent, set Darwin on his life’s course, first by igniting a love of science (“natural philosophy”), and then by highlighling a major, unanswered scientific question, and giving a general description of the type of answer it should have. Darwin reported back to his muse over 20 years later with a theory, basically saying, “Chance did it.” Herschel immediately and rightly rejected the theory as plainly inadequate, over a century before it was possible to demonstrate this (via computer), as has now occurred. Herschel — “such a mind” indeed.
    __________

    * From Gulliver’s Travels (1726) by Jonathan Swift:
    We crossed a walk to the other part of the [Laputan] academy, where, as I have already said, the projectors in speculative learning resided.

    The first professor I saw, was in a very large room, with forty pupils about him. After salutation, observing me to look earnestly upon a frame, which took up the greatest part of both the length and breadth of the room, he said, “Perhaps I might wonder to see him employed in a project for improving speculative knowledge, by practical and mechanical operations. But the world would soon be sensible of its usefulness; and he flattered himself, that a more noble, exalted thought never sprang in any other man’s head. Every one knew how laborious the usual method is of attaining to arts and sciences; whereas, by his contrivance, the most ignorant person, at a reasonable charge, and with a little bodily labour, might write books in philosophy, poetry, politics, laws, mathematics, and theology, without the least assistance from genius or study.” He then led me to the frame, about the sides, whereof all his pupils stood in ranks. It was twenty feet square, placed in the middle of the room. The superfices was composed of several bits of wood, about the bigness of a die, but some larger than others. They were all linked together by slender wires. These bits of wood were covered, on every square, with paper pasted on them; and on these papers were written all the words of their language, in their several moods, tenses, and declensions; but without any order. The professor then desired me “to observe; for he was going to set his engine at work.” The pupils, at his command, took each of them hold of an iron handle, whereof there were forty fixed round the edges of the frame; and giving them a sudden turn, the whole disposition of the words was entirely changed. He then commanded six-and-thirty of the lads, to read the several lines softly, as they appeared upon the frame; and where they found three or four words together that might make part of a sentence, they dictated to the four remaining boys, who were scribes. This work was repeated three or four times, and at every turn, the engine was so contrived, that the words shifted into new places, as the square bits of wood moved upside down.

    Six hours a day the young students were employed in this labour; and the professor showed me several volumes in large folio, already collected, of broken sentences, which he intended to piece together, and out of those rich materials, to give the world a complete body of all arts and sciences; which, however, might be still improved, and much expedited, if the public would raise a fund for making and employing five hundred such frames in Lagado, and oblige the managers to contribute in common their several collections.

    He assured me “that this invention had employed all his thoughts from his youth; that he had emptied the whole vocabulary into his frame, and made the strictest computation of the general proportion there is in books between the numbers of particles, nouns, and verbs, and other parts of speech.”

    I made my humblest acknowledgment to this illustrious person, for his great communicativeness; and promised, “if ever I had the good fortune to return to my native country, that I would do him justice, as the sole inventor of this wonderful machine”…
    __________

    (Please excuse the length of this comment.)

  15. Jack Krebs argues:

    Sal is not banned at KCFS. Any further discussion about this should take place there, not here, as it really doesn’t pertain to this site at all.

    Yeah right, Jack, where I can’t plead my case before your over there where you act as Judge and Jury. I can plead my case here however, and since you’re here, it is an opportune time to mention it.

    Any way, feel at home here at UD Jack, I have no intenetion of suppressing what you have to say.

    I’m merely pointing out that I have extended much more courtesy to you than you have to me at KCFS, where people have the freedom to ignore threads that I start there (unlike a blog, where they have less choice about what they read).

    I’ve asked UD commenters to treat you with respect like an opponent visiting under flag of truce. I’m complaining you hadn’t gone the extra mile on my behalf over at KCFS where it seemed you’d tolerate any level of vulgarity directed toward me.

    Your toleration of vulgarity and accusations of lying didn’t bother me as much as the fact you would tolerate that and yet stop a limited number of discussions on scientific topics that I started and which I took care to stay on scientific grounds.

    I posted material on Lewontin which you shut down, yet you regularly allow bandwith for insults and ad homs to be directed at me. I can take the trash talking, but I find it a bit inequitable that discussion of things like Lewontin’s Santa Fe 2003 paper get quickly labeled as spam, yet stuff on your board that should clearly count as frivolous is permitted.

  16. The strength of Darwin’s theory is that on the surface it explains and unifies biology. This is why it is so readily accepted. If it only worked all of biology would fall into place. The only problem is when one looks at the details and finds it fails at nearly every turn.

    It is interesting that Darwin said that when you look at the universe as a whole you see design but when you look at the individual species you do not see design. If he had gone one step further and looked at the patterns of change in species he would not have found any evidence for gradual change. So where to then if not back to design.

    The letter to Herschell reveals a cocky Darwin who thought the details would be easily shown to support his views while 150 years later the details actually undermine it.

    Thanks J for the long post about the context of Darwin’s comments and that the term and concept of intelligent design was not borne in 1989 as Nick Matzke claims but was well known to Darwin.

  17. Forthekids, the very impersonal nature of online discussions lend themselves to childish tactics like name calling, etc. The reason of course is that the person you are insulting is not sitting in front of you. I can guarantee you that most people will not behave the way they do, if they had to face the consequences of doing it in person.

  18. Jerry wrote:

    “Thanks J for the long post about the context of Darwin’s comments and that the term and concept of intelligent design was not borne in 1989 as Nick Matzke claims but was well known to Darwin.”

    And well beyond. There have been design advocates throughout recorded history, although most deists and theists probably (as today) have disavowed design as an ‘intelligent process.’

    It’s been stated by certain researchers, however, that many Greek and Roman thinkers recognized design in nature. One ancient whose writings are available today was Epictetus. Here’s a quote from Disc. 1.6.7 (Loeb Classical Library translation, 1:41)

    “Assuredly from the very structure of all made objects we are accustomed to prove that the work is certainly the product of some artificer, and has not been constructed at random.”

    And another: Epictetus Disc. 1.16.8

    “Anyone who observes the facts of nature yet denies the existence of a creator, he opines, is stupid.”

    The concept is as old as man’s cognitive processes, although granted, there have been resurgences of late. Sorry, Nick.

  19. j,

    Thank you very much for your research and posting it here. It was very informative.

    Sal

  20. JK is, imo, a 1st class Darwinian fundamentalist terrorist — where he can freely act as such, and pretends to be a nice, fair, unprejudiced guy anywhere else.

    Gee, that sounds like almost every other Darwinian fundamentalist I’ve ever met. What a coincidence!

  21. Gentlemen, I know nothing of Krebs’ site, but this site is famous for banning people. I think we have a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Sal may have a point about abusive language on Krebs’ site, I don’t know. But I personally would love to have more dissenters on this site.

    Lets pull the plank out of our own eye before trying to deal with the speck in our brother’s eye.

  22. Thanks, bfast. I know there are people at the KCFS site that are rude and abusive, as there are on every site (I was just called a terrorist, for instance, who only pretends to be nice), but people’s behavior has to be quite excessive before they get banned at the KCFS forum.

    I know that I disagree with most of you about lots of basic issues, but I think on this site I’ve been pretty good about having civil discussions with people, which is what I enjoy when I have the time and the topic interests me.

  23. Hi bfast,
    It is perhaps because this site has acquired such a reputation that it is possible for us to have the long and fruitful discussions that do occur here.

    Having tried to speak my mind at PT, Pharyngula, StrangerFruit, ATBC, etc., I, for one, couldn’t care less about the so-called plank in the eye of UD.
    Dissenters are not hard to find.

  24. Ed Brayton repeats the Darwinist mantra. Crowther’s Lies on Origin of Intelligent Design

    Brayton writes:

    Nick did not claim that the phrase intelligent design was invented for the first time in late 1987; he said that this was the first time the phrase was “used systematically, defined in a glossary, claimed to be something other than creationism, etc.” In other words, it was only after the Edwards ruling that this phrase began to be used by anti-evolutionists as a label for their alternative position, and thus began to be used as the label for their movement.

    The evidence for this is absolutely undeniable.

    Not quite. Darwin used the phrase “intelligent design” to describe the alternative (to his) position.

    In contrast, Darwin did not even use the phrase “creationism” or even the word “Bible” or “biblical” in Origin of Species.

    Look at the TalkOrigins site regarding McLean vs. Arkansas and see how often the Bible is mentioned. Or Edwards vs. Aguillard.

    Darwin set the debate not against Biblical Creationism but against intelligent design, and a notion of special creation not necessarily rooted in what is now called “Biblical Creationism”.

  25. “If I had seen the humor part I wouldn’t have responded. My apologies.”

    I would agree with Jack on this. The font color is almost unreadable on my laptop.

  26. “I’ve asked UD commenters to treat you with respect like an opponent visiting under flag of truce.”

    People who believe we are made in the imago Dei will treat others with respect.

    Those who believe we are made in the imago animalia however have no reason to treat others with respect (other than pragmatic reasons).

  27. Those who believe we are made in the imago animalia however have no reason to treat others with respect (other than pragmatic reasons).

    Pragmatism works for me.

  28. Is there anyway of changing the font color for comments or blockquotes? They are difficult to read.

    I measured the color components of the grey type face of the blockquotes in Photoshop and it is closer to white than black and when it is on the grey background of the typical responder it is a faint grey on slightly fainter grey.

    The “humor” classification under the post at the top is close to white and the line above it almost pure white in Photoshop.

  29. Daniel King,

    The problem is what is pragmatic for you may be different from others such as Hitler and Stalin. It was very pragmatic for Stalin to get rid of the Kulaks. History is full of pragmatic solutions that are pragmatic only in the eyes of a single person or a few or maybe even a majority. Majorities may have different pragmatics than minorities.

    Pragmatic also means that what is useful to you today may not be useful for you tomorrow. Pragmatic is a different way of saying relativism because the basis for judging anything can change depending upon one’s personal needs.

    In many instances the actual pragmatic choice has no major implications for others but in many cases it does.

  30. bfast

    this site is famous for banning people

    It’s honest about banning people. That’s such a rarity that it draws attention hence the fame.

  31. DaveScot,

    By and large, I love the moderation policy around here. I’ve not had to read through pages of spam.

    Thanks for protecting our website.

    I believe the quality of the comments is one of the reasons people enjoy visiting UD.

    I started my own blog and discussion forum and modeled the moderation policy based on UD.

    UD is a trend setter. It deserves to be famous.

    Salvador

  32. I’ve been thinking about Robo’s comment that

    People who believe we are made in the imago Dei will treat others with respect.

    Those who believe we are made in the imago animalia however have no reason to treat others with respect (other than pragmatic reasons).

    I don’t know whether Robo intended his comment to include all possible cases – whether he sees the “imago Dei” and the “imago animalia” groups as two disjoint sets that include the only two possibilities into which a person’s beliefs can fall.

    I’m also not sure what people he includes in the “imago animalia” group. I’m assuming at a minimum he is including materialists who do not believe in any metaphysical aspect to the world. Keeping these uncertainties I have about exactly what Robo has in mind, here are a few comments.

    1. There are many people throughout the world who are not theists in the Western tradition and that have spiritual beliefs that all human beings have an inherent right to our respect, irrespective of any pragmatic grounds they might have for treating people with respect.

    So if Robo’s two categories are meant to just mean theists and materialists, then his categories are not all-inclusive: many people fall in neither group.

    2. However, perhaps Robo includes in the “imago animalia” group all who accept evolution and our biological relationship with all of life via common descent back to the beginnings of life. In this case, this group includes much more than the materialists, including a sizable fraction of the theists in the world. As has been discussed at length (but is still always a quite relevant fact)), many Christians accept evolutionary science and Christian theism: we have evolved in the animal world and also participate spiritually in the “imago Dei” that God has endowed upon and within our animal nature. One doesn’t have to agree with that interpretation, but I think it is a true fact that is what many Christians believe.

    3. But even if Robo is just talking about the materialists, I think he misrepresents them by saying that they respect others for pragmatic reasons only.

    In fact, I find the following a little ironic: the claim is made that “[p]eople who believe we are made in the imago Dei will treat others with respect.” And yet one sign of respect, in my opinion, is to try to genuinely understand the points of view of others who have different points of view than our own. Each person is trying to make sense out of the world as best they can, and even though we may think someone else’s path is terribly misguided, we should at least try to honestly understand them.

    I am certain that many materialists feel strongly that they have reasons other than just pragmatism for treating others with respect. I would hope that Robo and others would not be so simplistically dismissive of the beliefs of those who believe that the material world is all there is – if for no other reason than out of respect for the “image of God” that the theist believes resides in us all.

  33. jerry, Sal: You’re very welcome.
    __________
    Keep the moderation policy as is, please. No tripe.

  34. JK writes: “I am certain that many materialists feel strongly that they have reasons other than just pragmatism for treating others with respect.”

    Your comment reminds me of my torts professor in law school. He was ruthless. Whenever someone said in response to a question, “I feel . . .” he would invariably interrupt and say, “Mr. X, neither I nor your classmates are interested in the condition of your viscera. Give me reasons, not feelings.”

    From a strictly logical point of view, it is simply irrelevant that many materialists may “feel strongly” that there is a reason for treating others with respect other than mere pragmatism. Nietzsche was right to this extent. If materialism is true, these materialists’ feelings have misled them.

  35. I am certain that many materialists feel strongly that they have reasons other than just pragmatism for treating others with respect.

    Can you articulate any?

  36. Let me restate this then:

    Many materialists have reasons other than just pragmatism for treating others with respect. I believe they would claim that their reasons are sound, based on both the exercise of logic and human reason as well as experience and knowledge of human nature and the human condition.

    I understand that you, and many theists, are as dismissive of this position as the materialists are of theism. The current point I am making is not who is right, but rather what kind of respect does one show one with opposing viewpoints. In discussing materialism, should one make an effort to accurately present their position as they themselves see it, or can one just dismiss their position as wrong and then portray them as you – the anti-materialist – see them.

    And let’s be sure to turn this around: how should the materialist look at the theist? Should he make a genuine effort to understand the reasons the theist believes as he does, and to understand the overall context of the theist’s religious beliefs?, or should he dismiss the theist as having totally unsubstantiated beliefs in imaginary entities?

    There are people on both sides of this discussion who do not show respect for persons on the other side, and there are people that do. There are many people – good people – who have thought deeply about these matters and have reached opposite conclusions. What kind of respect should one have for someone who has reached the opposite conclusion as one’s self, and how should you treat such a person in discussing these matters with him?

    This is the question brought up by Robo’s comments above, I think.

  37. I cannot speak for other theists, including Robo, but the answer to your question is simple from a Christian perspective. We are enjoined to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Who, then, is our neighbor Christ was asked, and he responded by telling the story of the good Samaritan. Christ chose a Samaritan as the hero of his story for a reason; to the Jews Samaritans were a despised race, literally untouchable. Jesus point was that there is no merit in loving those for whom you have natural affection. The real test is loving those with whom you have natural antagonism.

    So, JK, the answer to your question is that every person on this site who names the name of Christ has a duty to treat all commenters with love, and this necessarily means every commenter should be treated with dignity and respect, even when (perhaps “especially when”) that dignity and respect is a one-way street.

  38. I was writing my response to Barry when Tribune7′s post intervened.

    When I wrote, “I am certain that many materialists feel strongly that they have reasons other than just pragmatism for treating others with respect,” Tribune7 asked,

    Can you articulate any?

    Sure. However, following up on what I just wrote to Barry, let me say that I am fairly sure that you won’t agree with them, which is fine with me – I’m not trying to convince you to be a materialist. What I would like you to do, however, is understand a bit better.

    So here is, perhaps, a materialist talking:

    “We live in a wondrous world – one capable of, among many other things, producing livings things as human beings. We have this short opportunity to be a human being, and while we are here we are sharing this opportunity with other human beings. Human beings have a nature – we have the potential to love, to be compassionate, to help others, to create and better the world around us; and our experience (both individual and collective) tells us that our deepest sense of satisfaction comes when we realize these potentials to reach out beyond ourself.”

    “So from this understanding of human nature and of the human condition both reason and emotion tell us that we should care about others, which of course includes having respect for the inherent human nature that resides in each and every one of us.”

    One does not have to believe in God to believe that love, compassion, and respect are central to the human condition, and that exercising those qualities resonates the best with the truth about what human beings are.

  39. And I agree with all that Barry just wrote about treating others with dignity and respect. My point is that one doesn’t have to be a theist to believe what Barry wrote about how to treat people. The reasons might be different, but the conclusion is the same.

  40. JK writes, “So from this understanding of human nature and of the human condition both reason and emotion tell us that we should care about others.”

    I grant that reason (always) and emotion (sometimes) tell us we should care about others. That is not the important question. The important question is, on what ground does the materialist choose to be guided by reason and good emotions instead of bad emotions such as envy, lust and malice? Again, from a strictly logical point of view, it is quite simply inescapable that the true materialist (i.e., a materialist true to his beliefs and not living on our culture’s rapidly dwindling store of Judeo-Christian moral capital) bases all of his decisions on pragmatic grounds, for to him, by definition, there are no other grounds upon which to base a decision.

  41. We have this short opportunity to be a human being, and while we are here we are sharing this opportunity with other human beings.

    And how does this have any basis in materialism?

    Human beings have a nature – we have the potential to love, to be compassionate, to help others, to create and better the world around us; and our experience (both individual and collective) tells us that our deepest sense of satisfaction comes when we realize these potentials to reach out beyond ourself.”

    Not according to materialistic evolutionary theory.

  42. Barry writes,

    The important question is, on what ground does the materialist choose to be guided by reason and good emotions instead of bad emotions such as envy, lust and malice?

    As I have said, this is a choice based on both reason and on the individual and collective human experience as to what resonates most with the truth about human nature.

    The theist is really in no different situation than the materialist. The theist chooses to believe in a God who imparts a rationale for the theist to be guided by reason and good emotions, but the belief in God is itself a choice that is really no different in nature than the choice made by the materialist. Just believing that their is an external source and justification for being good etc. doesn’t raise that belief to a different level of certainty than the belief that the reasons for being good lie within our human nature.

    Barry also writes,

    Again, from a strictly logical point of view, it is quite simply inescapable that the true materialist … bases all of his decisions on pragmatic grounds, for to him, by definition, there are no other grounds upon which to base a decision.

    I disagree strongly with this. Logic is a tool, but logic carries no content itself. When you say “from a strictly logical point of view” and “by definition” a materialist has nothing but pragmatic grounds for basing his moral decisions, you are embedding your own premises and definitions into the situation. As defined by you, and following the logic of your own theistic world view, you draw conclusions about someone who has different premises and different definitions. Your definitions and premises aren’t privileged. Of course you think the materialist is wrong, but they are only “logically” wrong within your theistic framework.

    This is the kind of thing I had in mind when I wrote earlier, “In discussing materialism, should one make an effort to accurately present their position as they themselves see it, or can one just dismiss their position as wrong and then portray them as you – the anti-materialist – see them.”

  43. JK responds to my comments: “This is the kind of thing I had in mind when I wrote earlier, ‘In discussing materialism, should one make an effort to accurately present their position as they themselves see it, or can one just dismiss their position as wrong and then portray them as you – the anti-materialist – see them.’”

    Jack, you do me an injustice. You will note in my comment above (34) I appealed not to a theist but to the very man who wrote:

    Begin quote:

    Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market-place, and cried incessantly: “I am looking for God! I am looking for God!” As many of those who did not believe in God were standing together there, he excited considerable laughter. Have you lost him, then? said one. Did he lose his way like a child? said another. Or is he hiding? I s he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? or emigrated? Thus they shouted and laughed. The madman sprang into their midst and pierced them with his glances.

    “Where has God gone?” he cried. “I shall tell you. We have killed him – you and I. We are his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained the earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not perpetually falling? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is it not more and more night coming on all the time? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we not smell anything yet of God’s decomposition? Gods too decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, murderers of all murderers, console ourselves? That which was the holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet possessed has bled to death under our knives. Who will wipe this blood off us? With what water could we purify ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we need to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we not ourselves become gods simply to be worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whosoever shall be born after us – for the sake of this deed he shall be part of a higher history than all history hitherto.”

    Here the madman fell silent and again regarded his listeners; and they too were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern to the ground, and it broke and went out. “I have come too early,” he said then; “my time has not come yet. The tremendous event is still on its way, still traveling – it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time, the light of the stars requires time, deeds require time even after they are done, before they can be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than the distant stars – and yet they have done it themselves.”

    It has been further related that on that same day the madman entered divers churches and there sang a requiem. Led out and quietened, he is said to have retorted each time: “what are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?”

    End quote.

    Jack, do not accuse me of failing to try to understand materialist philosophy. I have studied the most famous and insightful materialist of all. And, believe it or not, I have a certain admiration for him. You see, he was mistaken, but at least he had the courage to follow his conclusions through to their end. You, on the other hand, do not seem to have Nietzsche’s courage, so you make up stories to hide behind because you are afraid, afraid of a cold, hostile and indifferent universe in which we are moving away from all suns, perpetually falling with no backward, sideward, forward; where there is no up or down left. You are afraid of the infinite nothing.

    Either Nietzsche was wrong and God is not dead; or Nietzsche was right and there is nothing but the will to power and we must move beyond outdated notions like good and evil.

  44. “Pragmatism works for me.”

    Yeah? Well, my pragmatism may not work 4 u. That’s the point — no God —> no objective moral values.

  45. I stumbled on a list of “worst company names” which included this entry and one line of commentary:

    27) Engineering by Design (ebdesign.com)
    “For those who’ve had disappointing results engineering by accident”

    One presumes the company founders didn’t consider their moniker an oxymoron, though the website author did. So who is right? Are their two methods of engineering—Design and Natural Accident/Inevitability?

  46. Hi Jack, Robo here. Greetings from New Zealand.

    I appreciate your interaction with my thoughts above but I really think you are being inconsistent, not in your values such as respecting others, but in your claim TO those values while holding to a materialistic worldview (I hope I am understanding your position correctly).

    I think that if you are going to argue for (for example) something being good, I should like to ask you why you think it is so. Since atoms and molecules have no idea of good and evil, I am puzzled by how you derive these (non-materialistic) entities from a periodic table ensemble. Ultimately all values that you claim to have, and I do believe that you them, are founded either in materials made of electrons and quarks or in the creator of those materials.

    Since a materialist by definition denies that God exists, only the other option remains. Thus the materialist (being inconsistent) denies God but clings to morals that he has no right to (other than pragmatism).

    My last comment here would be regarding why I believe you to have the values you are clinging to. It is because you are made in God’s image, even though you deny it. According to God (Bible, book of Romans) you actually do know that God is, but you refuse to acknowledge Him as such.

    Cheers.

  47. A syllogism for Robo to analyze:

    “I am moral because god has commanded me.

    This person does not kowtow to my god.

    Therefore, this person is not moral.”

  48. Hi All:

    On Morality, pragmatism, relativism and reason

    1] Morality and pragmatism

    Let’s start with a basic point: we all struggle to do the right thing, and the fact that we quarrel reveals that we all understand and expect that we live under moral LAW. As C S Lewis (and behind him Paul of Tarsus in Rom 1 – 2, 13, Eph 4 etc) observed, this is a telling testimony that we implicitly acknowledge a Moral Lawgiver, with all that that in turn entails.

    But, since too often we are on the wrong side of that law, we try to justify ourselves in claimed “exceptions” to principle that we would at once realise there can be no real exceptions to when we or ones dear to us are on the receiving end of such “exceptions.” And that by the way is one reason why “it works for me” — i.e. pragmatism, that quintessentially appealing American philosophy, and one as fatally self-referentially absurd by vicious circles today as it was 100 years ago — is never good enough as a justification for morality.

    Kant knew better when he penned the Categorical Imperative and in so doing appealed to the implications of a bad example as it propagates across a community! (Recall, he showed that treating others as ends in themselves i.e as one wishes to be treated himself, is formally equivalent to the principle that one should act on maxims capable of universalisation without chaos or absurdity. Underneath lurks the classic Golden Rule.)

    2] Relativism

    The issue is not whether atheists etc can be “moral.” So they can, even as theists can be immoral. And, we all struggle to be consistently moral.

    Though, too, I have found too often that in practice the atheists among us protest too much and demonstrate too little, especially when issues come up that challenge their behaviour.

    Far too often “the nice moral atheist” comes down to a myth, especially when a gap appears between perceived interest and objectively moral behaviour. A capital example of this is the censorship, harassment and slander as well as sustained false accusations against those who have in recent times advocated for the re-emerging paradigm of intelligent design. I know the smell of bullying, and too many recent actions and too many prominent atheist web sites reek to high heaven of it.

    Thence cometh the key point that relativism undermines all basis for accepting the objectivity and no-exceptions nature of moral knowledge; thus, too, the capacity for self-reflection, repentance and reform. Like chloroform for the soul, it numbs too many to the appeal to conscience. [Cf here Eph 4:17 – 24.]

    . . .

  49. 3] Evolutionary materialism and reason

    This brings us to the underlying gap that Robo just highlighted:

    if you are going to argue for (for example) something being good, I should like to ask you why you think it is so. Since atoms and molecules have no idea of good and evil, I am puzzled by how you derive these (non-materialistic) entities from a periodic table ensemble. Ultimately all values that you claim to have, and I do believe that you them, are founded either in materials made of electrons and quarks or in the creator of those materials.

    Since a materialist by definition denies that God exists, only the other option remains. Thus the materialist (being inconsistent) denies God but clings to morals that he has no right to (other than pragmatism).

    In short, evolutionary materialism reduces the world to a cosmos that evolved by chance + necessity from hydrogen to humans. That, IMHCO, carries certain evident implications that I would like to see addressed on the merits. Namely:

    materialism . . . argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature. Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of chance.
    But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. Thus, what we subjectively experience as “thoughts” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as unintended by-products of the natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains. (These forces are viewed as ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance and psycho-social conditioning, within the framework of human culture.)
    Therefore, if materialism is true, the “thoughts” we have and the “conclusions” we reach, without residue, are produced and controlled by forces that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or validity. Of course, the conclusions of such arguments may still happen to be true, by lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” them. And, if our materialist friends then say: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must note that to demonstrate that such tests provide empirical support to their theories requires the use of the very process of reasoning which they have discredited!
    Thus, evolutionary materialism reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, immediately, that includes “Materialism.” For instance, Marxists commonly deride opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismiss qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? And, should we not simply ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is simply another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze?
    In the end, materialism is based on self-defeating logic, and only survives because people often fail (or, sometimes, refuse) to think through just what their beliefs really mean.
    As a further consequence, materialism can have no basis, other than arbitrary or whimsical choice and balances of power in the community, for determining what is to be accepted as True or False, Good or Evil. So, Morality, Truth, Meaning, and, at length, Man, are dead.

    This is the key issue I have with evolutionary materialism as a worldview and as a paradigm for science, not to mention as a claimed ground for morality. Unless I can find a plain and coherent answer on the merits [and kindly nb onward links at the linked page], I am forced to view it as in the end corrosive to rationality, reasonableness and morality.

    Thence, to view it as an enemy of reason, sound science and virtue. Thus also, of civility and even of the sustainability and basic viability of our civilisation; which I intend to hand on in good condition to my children.

    Do you have a good, factually adequate, coherent reason backed up by solid empirical evidence on the long-term viability of widespread atheism in a community that holds the levers of power [cf here Rom 1:19 - 32], on why I should revise this opinion?

    If so, kindly state it.

    GEM of TKI

  50. Daniel:

    You have, sadly, indulged in an ad hominem based on a strawman misrepresentation and using a loaded term to get there, “kowtow.” (Of course, this may all be inadvertent, but we need to realise that the just above by you distorts what Robo and others have said directly and plainly, not just tried to say.)

    Indeed, this is not irrelevant to the topic in view. For, unless we can respect one another enough to pause, calm down and hear what is being said, we can make no progress.

    So, please, look back above at what Robo has said, not at what you think he said or what you may wish to knock over, an imaginary “fundy” who wants to impose “his” “god” on others. (Cf here, what it appears Ms Amanpour is indulging on CNN at the moment through the fallacy of drawing improper immoral “equivalencies.” As John Hinderaker of PL quite properly notes on the direct implication of the logic of what she said, “Ms. Amanpour identifies herself as one of those who “don’t want to see religion in politics and culture.” Which is to say, they don’t want to see religion at all.” Think of what that implies, DK, think on it in terms of what that implies for freedom of opinion, expression, association and conscience for those of us who are principled theists. Then think of why we therefore respond so sharply to such an overt or covert agenda! Then look here and see from original sources, what you will not read in your history books on what principled theists in the Biblical, Judaeo-Christian tradition contributed at bitter cost to themselves to the rise of the liberties you enjoy today. Then, think about what that astonishing silence or even denial on evident and plain facts in turn implies, in light of Plato’s Parable of the Cave, which you can look up as I am running out of my budget for links in any one post).

    What Robo said (and cf my own post above and remarks by others):

    . . . I really think you are being inconsistent, not in your values such as respecting others, but in your claim TO those values while holding to a materialistic worldview (I hope I am understanding your position correctly).

    I think that if you are going to argue for (for example) something being good, I should like to ask you why you think it is so . . .

    In short, Robo is asking about the coherence of evolutonary materialism on morality (as I am), not asserting that adherents are not moral in the sense of having and trying to follow moral intuitions. Indeed, it is an inherent part of the Christian worldview as articularted by Paul of Tarsus that all normally funcitoning people, regardless of their worldviews, have such intuitions.

    Indeed, echoing Rom 1 – 2 and 13:1 – 10, he went on to say:

    My last comment here would be regarding why I believe you to have the values you are clinging to. It is because you are made in God’s image, even though you deny it. According to God (Bible, book of Romans) you actually do know that God is, but you refuse to acknowledge Him as such.

    The gap between what Robo said and what you think he said speaks volumes. Please, do not drag the thread off the track of a serious issue into chasing red herrings and burning strawmen; which will only cloud and poison the atmosphere.

    GEM of TKI

  51. Daniel King — “I am moral because god has commanded me.

    How about morality exist that transcends the will of man?

  52. Time for a few short comments before I go to work.

    To Barry: I’m not discussing Nietzsche. You may think he is the spokesperson for materialism, but I don’t.

    You write,

    Either Nietzsche was wrong and God is not dead; or Nietzsche was right and there is nothing but the will to power and we must move beyond outdated notions like good and evil.

    This is a simplistic dichotomy – there is lots of middle ground between these two positions, some of which I tried to express.

    However, because you see this as being such a black-and-white dichotomy, there is not much room for dialog with you. In fact, you dismiss my attempts to discuss some of the middle ground by writing,

    You, on the other hand, do not seem to have Nietzsche’s courage, so you make up stories to hide behind because you are afraid, afraid of a cold, hostile and indifferent universe in which we are moving away from all suns, perpetually falling with no backward, sideward, forward; where there is no up or down left. You are afraid of the infinite nothing.

    First of all, let me point out that I have not claimed to be describing my own personal views – rather I have been trying to explain how many materialists (real live people, not dead German philosophers) have reasons other than pragmatism to respect others, and more generally to seek to live moral lives. So it’s not me we are talking about, but rather a whole class of people.

    But you dismiss such people as lacking courage, of making up stories, and of being afraid of the infinite nothing. Many a materialist would respond that it is the theist who is making up stories in order to avoid a courageous acknowledge of the human condition. As long as people are committed to such dichotomous views and such an unwillingness to accept that people are going to come to different conclusions about such matters, constructive dialog will continue to be difficult.

  53. Jack,

    I don’t blame you for refusing to discuss Nietzsche. For a materialist his ideas are very frightening. Best to stick your head in the sand.

    I notice you also did not discuss Robo’s point about particles in motion having no notion of good and evil. Whether you want to discuss him or not, Nietzsche cannot simply be dismissed. Contend with me here Jack. Tell me why, once one accepts his materialist premises, Nietzsche was wrong. Tell me why the materialist should not strive to be the ubermensch of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, discarding the “slave morality” of the Western tradition, including its respect for persons of differing opinions.

    You accused me of refusing to try to understand the materialist point of view, and that is why I brought Nietzsche into the discussion. Your accusation is ironic in light of your “I’m not going to discuss that” attitude. You say there is not much room for dialoge with me; also ironic when you are the one who deals with my arguments with dismissal rather than response.

    Finally, it is true that some have accused Christians of “making up stories” to comfort themselves in the face of a hostile universe. And that brings us back to the purpose of this web site. What does the evidence declare? The evidence screams “design,” and if there is design there must be a designer.

  54. Cordova vs. Dembski by Ed Brayton.

    One wonders why Sal didn’t contrast the quote from the Darwin letter with that quote from Dembski.

    Answer: Because the one by Darwin was more humorous.

    Of Pandas and People was and remains the only intelligent design textbook.

    Bill Dembski

    That statement is obsolescent because Bill Dembski and Jonathan Wells have written a new ID textbook with an new definition of ID. See: College level ID textbook to be released March 1, 2007 (chapter 1 available online)

    The original release has been postponed, but I hear the book is coming out. And it doesn’t use the definition of ID that Pandas and People uses.

    Pandas and People

    Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact – fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. Some scientists have arrived at this view since fossil forms first appear in the rock record with their distinctive features intact, rather than gradually developing

    Design of Life

    Intelligent Design is the study of patterns in nature
    that are best explained as the result of intelligence.

  55. Jack Krebs:

    If you fly to Rome, you can enter St. Peter’s Basilica and find, off to the right of, and just short of the main altar, the body of Pope John XXIII. It’s in a glass sarcophagus. It doesn’t look air-tight, although it probably is. There are no tubes connected to the sarcophagus, no lines, no nothing. How would you explain the fact that his very material body lies incorrupt there in St. Peter’s 44 years after his death?

  56. Ed writes:

    Indeed, the fact that this very same first and only “intelligent design textbook” used precisely the same definition, word for word, for “creation science” in its pre-Edwards manuscripts as it used for “intelligent design” in its post-Edwards manuscripts is quite a problem for ID advocates.

    Only for those non-existent ID advocates who still promote this antiquated definition of ID:

    Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact – fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. Some scientists have arrived at this view since fossil forms first appear in the rock record with their distinctive features intact, rather than gradually developing

    Ed does not appreciate that the definition of ID has evolved.

    PS
    By the way, one of Ed’s fans said:

    Holy smokes, Sal is just masterful!

    I agree. :-)

  57. Speaking of the moderation policy, I just zapped two posts that attempted to insult Sal. And, no, there weren’t any arguments of substance mixed in.

    I’ve always thought it’d be “interesting” to retain a copy of comments like that in a separate area just so people know the nasty type of stuff the average Darwinist is saying on a regular basis.

  58. Note: This is a partial quote…

    “The time has come to take seriously the fact that we humans are modified monkeys, not the favoured Creation of a Benevolent God … we must recognize our biological past in trying to understand our interactions with others.”

    “…the basis of ethics does not lie in God’s will … it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate. It is without external grounding. Like Macbeth’s dagger, it serves a powerful purpose without existing in substance.”

    Ruse and Wilson, 1991

  59. Response to kf #50:

    Thank you for correcting my take on Robo’s post #46. I now see that I was wrong to impute to him (without further analysis) the claim that non-theists are not moral.

    You and Robo are saying that non-theists have no warrant (grounds) for acting morally. (Indeed, you go so far as to say that non-theists have no warrant for being rational!)

    Let’s accept your assertion as a premise. The question then arises: given that the non-theist has no warrant for his morality, can he still be moral? (Jack Krebs thinks so.)

    If the answer is yes, then it is irrelevant whether the non-theist has a warrant.

    If the answer is no, then the conclusion of my “syllogism” in post #47 is correct: you believe that non-theists cannot be moral.

  60. given that the non-theist has no warrant for his morality, can he still be moral?

    Sure, he just can’t rationally explain his value system. Why would a non-theist be moral and remain a non-theist anyway?

  61. Robo said: Since atoms and molecules have no idea of good and evil, I am puzzled by how you derive these (non-materialistic) entities from a periodic table ensemble. Ultimately all values that you claim to have, and I do believe that you them, are founded either in materials made of electrons and quarks or in the creator of those materials.

    Atoms and molecules have no notion of hurricanes either but the Mayans living in the central Yucatan will tell you that they very definitely exist.

    It is clear that there are very many emergent properties that have sprung from a universe made up of countless simple atoms. Materialists, of which I am one, simply add a few more to the list, like human memories and emotions.

    This isn’t even to deny ID, since these things in humans could have been created by a materialistic creator.

  62. DK:

    1] Please, take note of the very first points made in my first post in the thread, at 48 above.

    YRS, 59: The question then arises: given that the non-theist has no warrant for his morality, can he still be moral? (Jack Krebs thinks so.) If the answer is yes, then it is irrelevant whether the non-theist has a warrant. If the answer is no, then the conclusion of my “syllogism” in post #47 is correct: you believe that non-theists cannot be moral.

    2] Now, here is how I introduced my own general remarks, in 48:

    Let’s start with a basic point: we all struggle to do the right thing, and the fact that we quarrel reveals that we all understand and expect that we live under moral LAW. As C S Lewis (and behind him Paul of Tarsus in Rom 1 – 2, 13, Eph 4 etc) observed, this is a telling testimony that we implicitly acknowledge a Moral Lawgiver, with all that that in turn entails.

    But, since too often we are on the wrong side of that law, we try to justify ourselves in claimed “exceptions” to principle that we would at once realise there can be no real exceptions to when we or ones dear to us are on the receiving end of such “exceptions.”

    3] Thus, my point is –- and indeed some of the earlier exchanges in this thread show this in action (and there are some matters there that need to be resolved amicably methinks) –- that we all [a] struggle with morality, while [b] implying/ expecting that we are bound by such a law, in turn [c] raising the question who is the thereby acknowledged Lawgiver?

    4] Note the import of this: we are NOT nice decent people who are generally speaking “good” i.e. morally upright and pure. Instead, a more accurate but less polite view is that we ALL struggle with morality, at our best.

    5] That discussion in brief also suffices to show — with a quick glance at say Rom 2, for background — that, on the Biblical Christian view all normal humans have and struggle with moral intuitions that raise the issue that we owe a duty to our Lawgiver. A duty that we all fail at to one extent or another, so raising the onward issue of true, objective moral guilt for wrong we have done. Thence, issues of forgiveness and reconciliation and reformation with not only ourselves and one another but our Moral Lawgiver. (And, in turn that is why the core Christian message is called the Gospel – good news for morally messed up, objectively guilty people who are willing to face that fact and do something serious about it. Just so we can all understand what is at stake in this exchange.)

    6] Thence we see by direct contrast the deep, vital significance of the issue of warrant for morality as an index of a point where certain worldviews being addressed in this thread are blatantly factually inadequate relative to the facts of morality and their evident import.

    7] This brings us right back to the issue summarised by me in 49, and by others in this thread and elsewhere: can evolutionary materialism, relative to its premises, properly warrant the credibility of our minds and of morals as a particularly important function of mind? If not, does that not make it inherently self-referentially inconsistent and thus irrational?

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Onlookers, observe carefully how there has been no serious attempt in this thread or in several other recent threads, just walkaways or attempts to brush it aside. Ask yourself why.

  63. PPS: Re 61: “Emergent properties” fails to address the question of warrant relative to the dynamics at work. Cf the points in 49 above, again, and onward links to Plantinga et al.

    In very brief summary, when Na and Cl atoms come together we can explain NaCl based on the properties of constituents and interactions. The “emergent properties” now in view are radically different from material properties and forces — truth, implication, numbers, propositions, information, communication, morality etc. Is one atom more true or right than another? Can we reduce the writings of a certain Nobel Prize Chemist to mere electrochemistry in his neuronal networks? Why do we call a man a murderer and a tiger a predator? And much more . . .

    “Emergent properties,” in short, is little more than a fancy way to say, “we don’t know . . . .”

  64. BarryA, you have been talking past Jack’s point. Jack is merely suggesting that understanding the oppositions positions and motivations would help lead to a civil and fruitful discourse.

    Maybe you do understand what materialists think and why they do, but all you are doing in this conversation is telling us that we have no basis upon which to think that way, calling us cowards and craven for not reaching the conclusions you believe we should be reaching.

    With respect, that is showing materialists no respect at all and simply reinforces the point that Jack originally made that such name calling should be avoided if we are to have a civil debate.

  65. Bill Dembski wrote in his Dover expert witness paper:

    Of Pandas and People was and remains the only intelligent design textbook. In fact, it was the first place where the phrase “intelligent design” appeared in its present use.

    Nick Matzke writes:

    “intelligent design” as such originated in the 1989 ID textbook Of Pandas and People

    There is a difference between “present use” and “orginated”. And even then, “present use” could not be the most accurate or up-to-date use, since Bill Dembski points out: It is clear that the book is now dated.

    See: Expert Report by Bill Dembski

    And here is how the ancient idea of “intelligent design” was incorporated into Pandas:

    The Origin of Pandas

    And then as time went on, the definition of ID evolved to reach back to the more ancient roots of ID rather than merely Michael Denton and Thaxton, Bradley, Olsen. How this evolved was described in ID Coming Clean

    But let’s step back a bit. Let’s do a summary judgement and suppose the motivations were religious and there was a plot to find LEGAL means to present empirical FACTS in favor of intelligent design, or even special creation. Would that be illegal?

    Answer: It depends on the judge. It depends whether it’s Liqour Control Board Director John E. Jones or US Supreme Court Judge Scalia.

    We know what Jones would do. He’d cut and paste an ACLU opinion.

    But what would justice Scalia do? He gives us a clue in his dissenting opinion which was signed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme court in Edwards vs Aguillard:

    but the question of its constitutionality cannot rightly be disposed of on the gallop, by impugning the motives of its supporters.

    If scientific ideas are rejected because the idea was motivated by religion, then most of science would be rejected, since all the major disciplines of science were founded with strong religious inspiration.

    Case in point: Cosmological ID in 1744 upon which most of modern physics is tied.

    But even with these facts, it is clear, many courts would not grant ID a fair trial.

    So what do we do? First off, my personal view is that if Darwinist parents want to hide facts from their kids so that their kids can be raised as Darwinists, that is their right (much as I my dislike it). Public schools shouldn’t force the truth on Darwinist kids against the wishes of Darwinist parents.

    One can see how upsetting that would be to some Darwinist parents like Marc Hauser who describes how he raised his daughter:
    http://tinyurl.com/266wx8

    When my youngest daughter was about three years old, I pulled a cheap trick on her, teaching her that whenever I asked “Who’s the man?”, she should reply “Darwin!” She does this quite well now. It is hard to imagine any living biologist not thinking that Darwin IS the man,

    Besides, I’m not so sure pro-ID parents or creationists parents would be thrilled to have the public school NEA teachers that are ideological clones of Peter Singer, Stephen Pinker, or Richard Dawkins teaching ID, creation science, or even the Bible.

    So perhaps no ID in public schools any time soon. In fact, I’ve argued the public schools will be the last place the ID battle is won. The place where ID will win is in the court of public opinion and before the scientists of tomorrow.

  66. “Emergent properties,” in short, is little more than a fancy way to say, “we don’t know . . . .”

    If there is no supernatural aspect to the brain (and there is no evidence that there is) then all of our thoughts, emotions, philosophy, and moral decisions are naturalistic emergent properties of the brain, regardless of whether we evolved or were programmed to be that way (i.e. designed).

  67. The place where ID will win is in the court of public opinion and before the scientists of tomorrow.

    Amen to that, though I would put the scientists first. ID is already well thought of in the court of public opinion and is making no headway with scientists.

    Let’s do the science, get the results, and the skeptics will follow. It may not be tomorrow, but it will happen, if the science is done and shown to be done.

  68. Tyke writes: “BarryA, you have been talking past Jack’s point. Jack is merely suggesting that understanding the oppositions positions and motivations would help lead to a civil and fruitful discourse.”

    I am afraid you are quite wrong my dear tyke.

    Jack Krebs set forth the main point he was trying to make in his comment 36: “In discussing materialism, should one make an effort to accurately present their position as they themselves see it.”

    I very much agree with Jack. Indeed, what victory has one gained when one demolishes a straw man of one’s opponent’s position instead of dealing with his arguments on their own merits?

    In an effort to deal with the logic of materialism at least insofar as it has to do with ethics and morality, I referred the conversation to Nietzsche, perhaps the most famous materialist who ever lived. Surely, I must be given credit for trying to present the materialist position as they themselves see it.

    Instead of facing my arguments, Jack Krebs ducked them. His comment 52: “To Barry: I’m not discussing Nietzsche.”

    Why will Jack not discuss Nietzsche I asked myself. Surely it is not because Nietzsche is biased against materialists. He was one. Just as surely it is not because Nietzsche’s arguments are unworthy of discussion. He is justly one of the most influential philosophers of the last two centuries.

    Why then? The only answer I could come up with is “Jack is afraid of Nietzsche, because he knows in his heart of hearts that, given Nietzsche’s premises, his conclusions are inescapable.”

    If I am wrong Jack, by all means tell me why I am wrong. Stand up and face Nietzsche squarely. And please don’t give me warmed over sentimentality as a grounds for ethics. It simply will not do. At the decision point it is simply too easy to disregard sentiment in favor of self-interest.

    To paraphrase Newman, one might as well moor a battleship with a silken thread or carve granite with a razor as to try to restrain human passion by appeals to sentiment.

    I am all ears. Show me the flaws in Nietzsche’s logic. If you can.

  69. “Emergent properties,” in short, is little more than a fancy way to say, “we don’t know . . . .”

    Kairofocus is right. The term emergent is an handwaving exercise when a materialist cannot explain something. They will say it emerged and is actually a hotter concept than evolution because emergent is more powerful. It explains how complex properties can happen quickly as one says such and such emerged while to say it evolved implies lots of time.

    “Emerge” is a more powerful concept that a materialist can wave just as Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice waved his wand and an endless number of broomsticks emerged fetching water.

    Yes “emerge” is a potent addition to the wishful speculation of the materialist. It keeps them warm on cold nights knowing that they can always use it when needed like Mickey’s magic spell.

  70. I’d like to thank Ed Brayton for continuing to advertise UD.

    In reciprocity, here is Ed response. Cordova’s Non Answer.

    Ed demands:

    What I asked was why you chose to contrast the Darwin quote with what Matzke said rather than contrasting it to what Dembski said

    Because it didn’t occur to me. Duh. I was trying to make the humor thread a little entertaining (especially after Jack Krebs spoiled the party).

    Now, if Ed is asking whether I think there is a problem with what Bill said, or whether I was aware of a nefarious plot to take over the federal government, and whether I was privy to a conspiracy — that’s another story…

    Regarding a conspiracy. I have no info on that. I was never required to sign promise that “I’m a creationist and will secretly market creationism under the name ID so we can start a dominist theocracy” or anything of the sort.

    In fact, regarding my views of creationism, I have been worried my leanings toward creationism would disqualify me from the ID movement since there was some prior concern over my predecessors, Paul Nelson (I don’t recall off hand all the details…)

    The most I was asked to pledge was that was that I was Christian in order to lead an IDEA club — the IDEA club has since dropped that requirement. In fact, if there are accusations of a nefarious plot, it’s kinda inconsistent to be broadcasting in public view that one is required to have a certain religious belief to become an officer.

    In fact, on the IDEA Center website, it is very transparent what their beliefs are:

    IDEA Affiliations

    Additionally, for religious reasons unrelated to intelligent design theory, IDEA Center Leadership believes, that the identity of the designer is the God of the Bible. That’s our bias. We’d love to know more about yours!

    So in that regard, where is any evidence of hiding motives or beliefs or intentions? The point is, there has been a tradition of transparency from day one. For Ed and Nick to be accusing my friends and collegues of hiding something or being part of some conspiracy only conveys to me the level of self-blinding that must go on for these people to think we’re up to something.

    I’ve stated my positon on the public school issue, and I’ve have very marginal and vacillating involvement for the reasons outlined.

    My interest has been with respect to students and faculty and researchers in schools and industry. If a creationist hears an NEA public school teacher claim we weren’t specially created. No big deal. But if a student gets denied a diploma, or professor denied a job. That’s a big deal. That is what I am concerned about….

    Religious issues are also de-emphasized even in an organization like the Discovery Institute or IDEA for a practical reason: people are from radically different denominations. It would be a bad business practice, period, to make a big deal about it.

    Instead, all sort of conspiratorial motives are assigned to the ID movement for this de-emphasis of religion (compared to say Answers in Genesis, where every paragraph and every 5 minutes, a profession of faith is made).

    Futhermore, if the architects of ID were really a creationist organization, how then does one explain that it employs a Darwinist like John Angus Campbell and several non-creationists like Michael Behe or David Berlinski? How the heck will Matzke explain that one away…..

    In fact, Ed and Matzke edit out something that clarified Bills claims about Pandas. I pointed it out earlier, but I’ll repeat it:

    It is clear that the book is now dated. Indeed, the first edition
    was published in 1989 and the second edition (published in 1993) involves only minor changes
    in relation to the first edition. Of Pandas and People was and remains the only intelligent
    design textbook. In fact, it was the first place where the phrase “intelligent design” appeared in its present use.

    This passage had nothing to do with “originating” the idea of ID or how the label came about. It was referring to it current use in an obsolete book. It was the first time the phrase “intelligent design” was associated with the ideas of Thaxton, Bradley, Olsen, Kenyon, Denton, etc (and one should not call their work creationist in the Biblical or religious sense). So for Ed to cite this as evidence of some conspiracy to repackage creationism as ID is pretty lame.

    But I pointed, out, even if the motive was to repackage it in order to make it acceptable in the eyes of the courts, then there is even less call to say the ID movement was up to something wrong. It wouldn’t be creationism in the eyes of the law.

    The most they can come up with is to suggest that there was an attempt to deceive the courts. But in all my time in ID, I’ve not heard any sort of plot to do deliberately deceive. To lie means to willfully know that what one is doing is deceptive. It is not the same as creating an idea which there might have differing views as to its legality. Scalia might not agree with Jones, for example.

    Finally, no matter what nasty things Ed says about me, I still maintain, unlike the John Patterson’s and John Rennie’s of the world, that Ed is a decent guy deep down, he’s just badly mistaken. He’s making friends with the wrong gang. He belongs with us ID folk, not the likes of Gary Hurd and PZ Myers….

    Ed still thinks the ID movement is about suppressing thought. He might do well to consider that if it weren’t for him, Richard Dawkins would still collecting signatures to label religious people as child abusers. That effort by Ed was commendable, but it betrays the fact Ed’s on the wrong side. He belongs with us, not with them…

  71. I’ve seen the argument for some time now from theists that without belief in a God that there is no basis for moral or ethical behavior, and that having belief in God is the sole cause of peoples morality and ethics.

    As an ex-materialist I can speak from experience and say that my moral and ethical impulses before I became a theist were in fact real. Where did they come from? I guess from one point I can say that empathy played a major role, if not the main role. I didn’t want to harm others because I empathized with others. Also another reason, although I was not conscious of it at the time, was conditioning. Due to the society I grew up in (america) and the parents I had I was conditioned to have moral and ethical views since I could first speaka nd understand language. From schools, from media, from friends, from my parents, I was a recipient of a continual series of moral and ethical imperatives.

    So it is definitely possible to be moral and ethical and have reason to be so if you are a materialist. Empathy being the strongest motivation as well as conditioning by societal ubringing to motivate you to to fit in to society so as to cquire friends, family, wealth etc.

    As for the notion that belief in God imparts or causes morality and ethics; as philosophically attractive as that concept is, in reality there are and have been countless people with faith in God that have been or are immoral and unethical in countless ways. Some for selfish reasons others in the name of their God. There are also countless materialists who behave morally and ethically.

    If we philosophically examine the question of why people should be more moral and ethical if they belief in God, then we have to start with the question “why should they be more moral and ethical simply because they believe in God?”

    The only answer I can see is fear. If someone believes in God and believes that God can see what he is doing and can punish him for doing bad things, then he may be afraid of doing bad things for fear of punishment. The strict parent-child relationship. Besides fear there is no reason I can see why a materialist would be inherently more disposed to immorality and unethical behavior then a theist.

    In fact I can see a reason to believe that a theist can easily become more immoral and unethical then a materialist if he strongly believes in his religion and believes that his religion authorizes or even commands him to be what is in reality immoral and unethical in the name of morality and ethics e.g. violence towards others for any number of reasons which is taught as righteous and moral by a religion. For example in the old testament bible or in islamic scriptures or in the hindu manu samhita there are exhortations to violence for perceived offenses which are completely illegal because they are seen as immoral and unethical in almost all countries in this day and age.

    Materialist philosophy can also lead to immoral and unethical behavior. The history of the Soviet Union and other communist countries as well as the Nazis showcases what can happen if materialist ideologists without empathy get ahold of power.

    So when it comes to morality and ethics whether you are a materialist or a theist there is no guarantee that one will be better then the other.

  72. tyke

    95% of the universe is made of “stuff” that we know almost nothing about. Our theories of physics don’t predict it. All we know about it is how it effects “visible” matter through one of the four fundemental forces – gravity. Adding insult to ignorance we don’t have a theory of quantum gravity so we have no idea how the great majority of the stuff the universe is made of effects things on the scale of living things.

    Unless you happen to believe that the tail wags the dog it’s nothing but undeserved hubris behind any opinion that what we know of is all there is that’s important in life and especially sentience.

  73. sal

    Ed’s awfully caustic for this side of the fence. He makes me look civil. I think he fits right in on the other side. PiZza Myers’ long lost brother…

  74. Mentok writes: “I’ve seen the argument for some time now from theists that without belief in a God that there is no basis for moral or ethical behavior,”

    I never said this. The issue is not whether people who don’ believe in God can be moral and ethical. Of course they can. The issue is whether they can articulate a logical basis for their behavior other than pure sentiment. Jack Krebs, an obviously intelligent man, could not. Judging by what you write here, neither can you.

    By the way, as I have been laboring to make clear (obviously unsuccessfully), it is not only theists who believe that there is no firm foundation for ethics without a transendent moral code, honest materialists admit the same thing. I won’t mention Nietzsche again. How about Professor Provine:

    “Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent.” Evolution: Free Will and Punishment and Meaning in Life, Second Annual Darwin Day Celebration Keynote Address, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, February 12, 1998 (abstract); on the web at http://eeb.bio.utk.edu/darwin/.....ddress.htm.

    Mentock writes: “ and that having belief in God is the sole cause of peoples morality and ethics.”

    I never said this either. As I mentioned, many materialists are trying to take a free ride on our culture’s Judeo-Christian moral capital. This is becoming more and more difficult as that capital dwindles.

    Mentok writes: “So it is definitely possible to be moral and ethical and have reason to be so if you are a materialist.”

    Of course it is. You see, there are no real materialists. The Bible says that God has put eternity in our hearts and that we all know at the innermost core of our being that His law exists and we transgress it at our peril. The most dyed-in-the-wool atheist still feels the tug of the law of the God he denies on his heart.

    I will say this one more time. The issue is not whether materialists can behave morally and ethically. They can and do. The issue is, as Will Provine says, whether there is a firm foundation for ethics.

    Think about this. Assume you are on trial for your life and the outcome of your case depends on a single witness telling the truth when the truth will have devastating personal consequences to him. Other things being equal, who are you going to put under oath, Dr. “there is no firm foundation for ethics” Will Provine or Dr. “My God has commanded me not to bear false witness” Billy Graham?

  75. All (esp Tyke, and co):

    There are several points worth a follow-up overnight. However, first we need to get something out of the way, as there is a clear misperception and misrepresentation [probably inadvertent – it is hard to see beyond our expectations] going on, despite direct statements to the contrary, with excerpts and references.

    For that, let’s now cite Paul in Rom 2 & 13 – simply to document the actual explicit, authentic Christian Theistic view from an unquestionably authentic source, and then make a few observations on what is being said (some of which will be a surprise to some Christians too):

    . . . 2:6 God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil . . . 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good . . . 11 For God does not show favoritism . . . . 14 (Indeed, when [men without the Scriptures] . . . do by nature things required by the [biblical] law, they . . . 15 . . . show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) . . . . 13:8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

    –> Plainly, the NT position is that all normal men have moral intuitions that are implanted in our hearts by God; to wit we intuitively recognise that others are essentially like our own selves and deserve our respect and love so that just as we wish no harm to come to us, we should initiate no harm to them, but rather should do them good. (BTW, Locke strongly echoes this explicitly Judaeo-Christian thought in his use of Hooker’s famous Ecclesiastical Polity in his 2nd Essay on Government, Ch 2 Sec 5 and Ch 3 Sec 17 etc.)

    –> Second (and here is also a surprise for Christians who may think otherwise), to those who actually persist in this moral law and way of doing good, from 2:6, “ he [God] will give eternal life.” Based on 14 – 15, this persistence also implies that there is a submission to the voice of conscience within and an even inchoate penitence when one stumbles [too often] and consistent turning to struggle towards reformation by the light one has: conscience, the voice of reason, the word of prophets and thinkers who are attuned more to that law than most men, inscripturated revelation and analysis, the voice of the Spirit.

    –> But, equally: ”for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” That deeply troubles me when I see the brushing aside of inconvenient but evident truth, and/or the pretence that we are such nice, moral upright people who have no faults of consequence. It also troubles me when I see how too many people, from Athens’ Mars Hill [Cf Ac 17 vv 16 on, esp 29 ff] to this day, respond to the unshakeable evidence of 500 eyewitnesses and a church that has shown the resulting power from a World Beyond, on the Passion and eternal triumph of the one called “Christ.”

    –> It further troubles me when I see how evidence that points to design in the finely tuned cosmos, in the nanotechnology of life, in the information requisites of body-plan level biodiversity, and the origin of a credible mind and conscience are frequently, sometimes even angrily dismissed or even censored through the fallacy of selective hyper-skepticism and associated misrepresentations and atmosphere-poisoning rhetoric.

    Surely, we can do better than such. A lot better.

    Now, on points:

    1] Tyke, 64, to BarryA: you do understand what materialists think and why they do, but all you are doing in this conversation is telling us that we have no basis upon which to think that way, calling us cowards and craven for not reaching the conclusions you believe we should be reaching.

    A fairer summary of what Barry A has pointed out is that he has highlighted key themes in the best known passage by a major, iconic materialist [Nietzsche], and has challenged materialists to either own his reasoning or show good reason to reject it. Indeed, here he is in 68 on the point:

    Jack Krebs set forth the main point he was trying to make in his comment 36: “In discussing materialism, should one make an effort to accurately present their position as they themselves see it.” I very much agree with Jack . . . . In an effort to deal with the logic of materialism at least insofar as it has to do with ethics and morality, I referred the conversation to Nietzsche, perhaps the most famous materialist who ever lived . . . . Instead of facing my arguments, Jack Krebs ducked them. His comment 52: “To Barry: I’m not discussing Nietzsche.” . . . . Why then? The only answer I could come up with is “Jack is afraid of Nietzsche, because he knows in his heart of hearts that, given Nietzsche’s premises, his conclusions are inescapable.”

    If I am wrong Jack, by all means tell me why I am wrong.

    So far, sadly, and as BarryA has just summarised, we see ducking or brushing aside of the issue of the logic of materialism, and its implications for morality. We then see attacks to the man instead. Onlookers, what does that tell us on the issues of warrant and willingness to think through what Materialism is about?

    . . .

  76. 2] Sal, 65, on the actual main topic: There is a difference between “present use” [of the term ID in “Pandas . . .”] and “orginated”. And even then, “present use” could not be the most accurate or up-to-date use . . . . as time went on, the definition of ID evolved to reach back to the more ancient roots of ID rather than merely Michael Denton and Thaxton, Bradley, Olsen . . . . If scientific ideas are rejected because the idea was motivated by religion, then most of science would be rejected, since all the major disciplines of science were founded with strong religious inspiration.

    Sal is dead right here, and in fact if religious motivation sufficed to overturn an idea, so should ir-/ anti- religious personal motivation. At once we see that science and much more than science would at once collapse were such a standard to be applied – i.e the attacking and dismissing of ideas by attacking the man instead of addressing the merits is immoral by Kant’s Categorical Imperative. We all know the proper answer: issues should be addressed on the merits of fact, logic and the like, not attacks to the man – this last, sadly, a by now very familiar, atmosphere- clouding and poisoning theme.

    3] Tyke, 66: If there is no supernatural aspect to the brain (and there is no evidence that there is) then all of our thoughts, emotions, philosophy, and moral decisions are naturalistic emergent properties of the brain, regardless of whether we evolved or were programmed to be that way (i.e. designed).

    The Spartans had a proverbially short and sharp way of making simple responses to such arguments: “IF.”

    In short, Tyke here begs a key question through selective hyper-skepticism in Cliffordian/ Saganian evidentialist form, as his further remark shows: there is no evidence that there is . . . What were we discussing again, but evidence that –- as even his earlier assertion “emergent properties” concedes even as it tries to evade — the mind and morals is substantially different from the properties of matter, energy and their interactions.

    Further to this, we have said at this stage on this topic nothing about “supernatural,” a loaded term in this context. We have — e.g. 49 above and elsewhere — raised the issue that there is a serious issue over the explanatory adequacy of evolutionary materialism on its own terms to account for the credibility of mind and conscience. It is in that context that we have raised issues on where the empirical fact that we find ourselves bound by moral law points, i.e to a Moral Lawgiver who gave us minds with morality as a key function. (So instead of addressing on the merits the issue of providing adequate explanation, T is trying to object to where a plainly more adequate explanation points. That rather begs the question, does it not?)

    4] Tyke, 67: Let’s do the science, get the results, and the skeptics will follow.

    The science has already long since been adequately on the table. It is the institutional power of those committed to a classic Lakatosian degenerative evolutionary materialist programme/ paradigm that is for the moment holding back the tide in Science, the mainstream media, some courtrooms and education systems, as institutions.

    But, a new generation is rising who are familiar with information and what it implies when it is seen to be a core constituent of life and the cosmos. [Cf my always linked.]

    5] Jerry, 69: The term emergent is an handwaving exercise when a materialist cannot explain something. They will say it emerged and is actually a hotter concept than evolution because emergent is more powerful. It explains how complex properties can happen quickly as one says such and such emerged . . .

    It happened, suddenly, inexplicably relative to “my” premises and principles of action, and we can trust its deliverances insofar as they relate to mind and morals.

    H’mm – doesn’t that look uncommonly like what a miracle would look like? Are we not here seeing the materialist form of belief in miracles?

    6] Sal, 70: I was never required to sign promise that “I’m a creationist and will secretly market creationism under the name ID so we can start a dominist theocracy” or anything of the sort.

    This of course, sadly, reflects the atmosphere-clouding and poisoning rhetoric out there.

    Should not those who make an accusation of serious impropriety have the duty to establish their accusation relative to substantial and clear evidence, or stand exposed as irresponsible and disrespectful?

    7] Mentok, 71: As an ex-materialist I can speak from experience and say that my moral and ethical impulses before I became a theist were in fact real. Where did they come from? I guess from one point I can say that empathy played a major role, if not the main role.

    That is, just as Paul highlighted on the significance of neighbour love in the context of conscience implanted within us as a key function of our minds.

    All men have moral intuitions and find themselves having to struggle to consistently live by that light of the candle within. [Cf Section 5, Intro to Locke's Essay on Human Understanding, and Prov 20:27 . . .]

    GEM of TKI

  77. PS: Here is Locke, in his 2nd essay on Civil Govt:

    [Citing Hooker, in Ch 2 Section 5:] . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . .

    [Applying and focussing:] The state of Nature has a law of Nature to govern it, which obliges every one, and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions . . . . so by the like reason, when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he as much as he can to preserve the rest of mankind, and not unless it be to do justice on an offender, take away or impair the life, or what tends to the preservation of the life, the liberty, health, limb, or goods of another . . . . In transgressing the law of Nature, the offender declares himself to live by another rule than that of reason and common equity, which is that measure God has set to the actions of men for their mutual security [i.e. we see here the right to self-defense for the community, and also the individual, as is discussed at length in the work], and so he becomes dangerous to mankind . . . . [Ch III, S 17] he who attempts to get another man into his absolute power [i.e. to tyrannise upon another, by force, fraud, usurpation or invasion] does thereby put himself into a state of war with him; it being to be understood as a declaration of a design upon his life. For I have reason to conclude that he who would get me into his power without my consent would use me as he pleased when he had got me there, and destroy me too when he had a fancy to it.

    The line of thought in Jesus and Paul should be plain.

  78. I’ll add something I posted at telic thoughts regarding the motivation to have a label of ID as opposed to creation science.

    Nick Matzke repeats the mantra that the ID theme was all about inserting creationism into public schools. This is what I told Nick:

    ===========

    Nick boasts:

    Bradford and Sal have sunk their own case and proved all my points:

    [I responded:]

    Your point being that ID is only about getting creationism into the public schools? LOL! You’re a victim of your own fabrications.

    Do you think IDEA was formed to get creationism into the public schools?

    How about the Discovery Institute. Do you think it would have been easy to recruit Michael Behe or David Berlinski or for that matter William Dembski or Michael Denton (briefly) or Hubert Yockey (briefly) into a movement which called itself the creation science movement? Ah yes, we can imagine the Pajaro Dunes conference and Phil Johnson inviting everyone there soley in order to promote creationism in the public schools. (NOT!)

    Nick, you fail to grasp that college professors and researchers friendly to the design argument might be a little discomforted to be associated with Answers in Genesis or the ICR, but they might feel a bit more comfortable with an outfit like the Discovery Institute and group that de-emphasized religious affiliations and didn’t require a profession of YECism to join.

    A new name and affiliation (such as ID) might just be the catalyst to attract talent like Behe, Dembski, Thaxton, Bradley, Olsen, Gonzalez, etc. into the movement (none of whom are YECs).

    Do you think the misery Kenyon, Gonzalez, Dembski, Sternberg, and Crocker went through was about public school issues? I can tell you that Dembski, Crocker, and Sternberg would not call themselves creationists.

    Do you think I’m in this primarily over public school issues? C’mon Nick, snap out of it, man.

    You’re arguing that the label was changed and maintained soley or primarily in relation to the public school issue, and that may not be the case at all. You might be presuming that a Bible believer might not have a strong desire to see a design hypothesis argued strictly from empirical evidence and physical theory rather than from theology. If you presume that, you are wrong. The design argument is believable for the very reason it is not argued from theology but rather from cold hard facts and logic.

  79. PPS: Similarly, in his Essay on Human Understanding, Locke begins his main argument, Intro Section 5:

    Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 - 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 - 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 - 2, Ac 17, etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 - 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly.

    Of course, Locke would have been even more strict in his rebuke to selectively skeptically doubting what one does not want to believe, while accepting substantially similar claims on similar evidential grounds, because the later happen to fit better with one’s preconceptions.

  80. Hey guys, just so you don’t think I have run off to “hide my head in the sand”, I am currently on vacation and do not have the time to respond to any of the (extremely) lengthy posts just added.

    Family and friends come before internet debates I am sure is one thing we can all agree upon. See you later, folks.

  81. Hi guys. I’m in the same boat as tyke: between my day job and other obligations yesterday I had no opportunity to take the time to respond to Barry. I’d still like to, but now I’m off to work again – we’ll see if I have time tonight.

  82. Okay . . . .

    I too have to head off to some clients, having of course used insomnia power bigtime last night.

    (Much of the above though was an expansion on previous remarks as it seems the previous level of details was not enough, and of course there was a lot of excerpting and linking to key sources. I even took the risk with the spam filter to give a fairly extensive citation from the NT, even through it seems not to like it. H’mm, sorta doesn’t sit well with the fundy conspiracy theory . . . )

    I wish Tyke well on his vac, and Jack well with his own job.

    Maybe, we can focus tasks a bit:

    1] Calling all materialists:
    In this thread, a serious issue has been raised, that evolutionary materialism has a challenge to ground morals and mind as well, relative to its premises.

    The only seriously proffered response on the merits is “emergent properties,” but that needs to explain such emergence beyond the level of summation of existing properties and interactions of material entities such as atoms and neuronal networks and associated accidents of conditioning.

    Otherwise that is going to look a lot like belief in miracles of materialism, complete with going beyond known laws and requiring committed, even creedal, faith.

    2] Tyke:

    Above you said to Barry A in 64, that: you do understand what materialists think and why they do.”

    If that is so, then help us here: why is it that his inferences and citation of Nietzsche on the logic of materialism on morality, are evidently in your opinion incorrect or improper?

    3] Jack:

    What about you? Do you agree with Tyke’s assessment as just cite? Why or why not?

    How about my own summary argument as excerpted and linked in 49 above, i.e. in even more desperately compressed and excerpted outline:

    evolutionary materialism reduces the world to a cosmos that evolved by chance + necessity from hydrogen to humans. That, IMHCO, carries certain evident implications that I would like to see addressed on the merits . . . . materialism . . . argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature. Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of chance.
    But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. Thus, what we subjectively experience as “thoughts” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as unintended by-products of the natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains . . . . Therefore, if materialism is true, the “thoughts” we have and the “conclusions” we reach, without residue, are produced and controlled by forces that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or validity . . . Thus, evolutionary materialism reduces reason itself [including rationalisation of empirical evidence] to the status of illusion. But, immediately, that includes “Materialism” . . . . In the end, materialism is based on self-defeating logic . . . . As a further consequence, materialism can have no basis, other than arbitrary or whimsical choice and balances of power in the community, for determining what is to be accepted as True or False, Good or Evil. So, Morality, Truth, Meaning, and, at length, Man, are dead.

    Okay — and noting that I have already shown above that it is my personal and the classic Christian theistic position* that all normally functioning men have and struggle with moral intuitions — where is this chain of reasoning wrong, if it is wrong?

    Similarly, where is Nietzsche’s argument on the logic of morality on materialist premises wrong, if it is wrong?

    GEM of TKI

    * [as a basic component of the Gospel message, of which Rom 1 - 3 is the classic philosophical- theological exposition. I.e., the Judaeo-Christian theistic position on morality is not just a matter of arbitrary commands from a capricious God demanding that we "kowtow" but as Hooker and Locke show a reasonable morality rooted in the implications of our common human nature and dignity under God. Likewise, cf here on Euthryphro. ]

  83. To piggyback on kf’s last comment;

    There is a story about a professor who asked his students if they believed God created this world. When one brave student raised his hand, the professor pointed to all the evil in the world and said that since evil existed in this world and a perfectly good God would not create evil, then therefore a perfectly good God could not exist because of this principle.
    The story goes on that another student raised his hand and when the professor called on him, He asked the professor, “Do You believe that cold exists?” The professor said “why yes of course.” Then the student pointed out the fact that all cold really is, is the measure of the absence of heat. Therefore cold is equivalent to non-existence and thus does not exist. Then the student asked the professor “Do you believe dark exists?” The professor answered “Why of course.” Then the student pointed out the fact that all dark really is is the measure of the absence of light. Therefore darkness is equivalent to non-existence and thus does not exist. The student went on to illustrate that as such evil is the measure of the absence of perfect goodness. Therefore evil is equivalent to non-existence and thus does not exist in reality.
    The student was said to have been a young Albert Einstein.

  84. kf #62:

    7] This brings us right back to the issue summarised by me in 49, and by others in this thread and elsewhere: can evolutionary materialism, relative to its premises, properly warrant the credibility of our minds and of morals as a particularly important function of mind? If not, does that not make it inherently self-referentially inconsistent and thus irrational?

    I repeat: for practical purposes it is irrelevant whether the non-theist (a class that includes “evolutionary materialists” as a subset) has a “proper” warrant by your lights for his moral behavior or for his rationality.

    Case in point: yesterday I fulfilled my civic duty of jury service. For the practical purpose of satisfying the needs of my community, this effort required no examination of the epistemological grounding of each step, from setting my alarm for an early start through dropping my juror’s badge in the recycling basket.

    If instead you are asking me to examine the epistemological groundings of my belief in the reality of the external world or of my morality for the sake of my immortal soul, I consider that to be an entirely different matter. I choose to set that matter aside without concern for any consequences, having faith that a good and loving god is at least as decent a person as I am, and he/she respects my autonomy.

    As a matter of possible interest to one who would like to see a non-theistic (scientific) treatment of moral behavior, here is a recent effort:

    Science 18 May 2007:
    Vol. 316. no. 5827, pp. 998 – 1002
    Review
    The New Synthesis in Moral Psychology
    Jonathan Haidt
    People are selfish, yet morally motivated. Morality is universal, yet culturally variable. Such apparent contradictions are dissolving as research from many disciplines converges on a few shared principles, including the importance of moral intuitions, the socially functional (rather than truth-seeking) nature of moral thinking, and the coevolution of moral minds with cultural practices and institutions that create diverse moral communities. I propose a fourth principle to guide future research: Morality is about more than harm and fairness. More research is needed on the collective and religious parts of the moral domain, such as loyalty, authority, and spiritual purity.
    Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA.

    Note the reference to evolution.

  85. kairosfocus,

    Your comment:

    “H’mm – doesn’t that look uncommonly like what a miracle would look like? Are we not here seeing the materialist form of belief in miracles?”

    That is why I used the analogy of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. While the materialist doesn’t believe in God, they do believe in magic. Maybe macro-evolution only happens when one knows the right incantation that invokes the appropriate spell. It is obviously a forgotten knowledge since no macro evolution has happened in hundreds or thousands of millennia. As Behe has recently shown all they get now a days is a few trivial mutations. So unless they learn how to recite the right words so that organized complexity can magically emerge they will have to do with trivial changes due to a few negative mutations.

    The moral – When the materialist says their belief system holds together, they are really saying that they believe in magic, but one that is lost to the current world.

  86. Daniel King — I repeat: for practical purposes it is irrelevant whether the non-theist (a class that includes “evolutionary materialists” as a subset) has a “proper” warrant by your lights for his moral behavior or for his rationality.

    Well, for pratical purposes it doesn’t matter if you believe the Earth to be 6,000 years old. So why do evolutionary materialists get so hot and bothered by people who proclaim it?

    Actually there are very practical reasons for cultures to address the source of morality. Take jury trials. We both agree that it is good to accept civic responsibility, to recognize justice exists as does truth, and that we should endeavor to be fair to victim and accused.

    But not every socieity has jury trials, nor a concern for either victim or accused. In fact many societies treat the need for social order on the basis of pragmatism rather than justice.

  87. Hi, tribune 7:

    Well, for pratical purposes it doesn’t matter if you believe the Earth to be 6,000 years old. So why do evolutionary materialists get so hot and bothered by people who proclaim it?

    It matters for the practical purposes of astronomers, physicists, geologists, paleontologists, biologists, psychologists, etc. Can you see why they might be annoyed if people proclaim a 6,000 year old universe in their workplaces and classrooms?

  88. It matters for the practical purposes of astronomers, physicists, geologists, paleontologists, biologists, psychologists, etc.

    Not really.

    But how, for all practical purposes, your life be different if you believed in a 6,000-year-old Earth?

  89. Well, for one thing, I would be suffering from cognitive dissonance!

  90. Well, for one thing, I would be suffering from cognitive dissonance!

    OK, some well-regarded, impossible-to-dispute research comes along that says, yup, rate of decay of isotopes really was a whole lot faster a few thousand years ago.

    Then you find that astronomers now believe that assumptions involving spectrum shifts of light are incorrect and the universe is much, much younger.

    How does your life change for all practical purposes?

  91. tribune7,

    “How does your life change for all practical purposes?”

    I will tell you one way it affects me. Namely, I do not know what to accept from such people in terms of science because I believe their beliefs are driven by ideology so I am not sure what is ideology free and what isn’t. By the way I feel the same way about Darwinists and Theists on evolutionary science. They too are driven by ideology on anything related to evolutionary science. Most of understand the ideology basis for Darwinists but the more I read about the Theists, I see the same thing.

  92. My thanks to Ed for advertising this UD thread for the 3rd time!

    Cordova Conintues to Spin

    Ah well, Ed (an Ex YEC) is committed to seeing what he wants.

    Sal puts “originated” in bold print but ignores the key phrase that goes before it – “as such.”… But this is highly, highly dishonest

    Ah, yes, putting the word “originated” in bold is highly dishonest in Ed’s book.

    He does so because he wants to claim that Nick is saying that the phrase “intelligent design” was actually used the first time in 1987.

    Hey Ed, do us all a favor and do a search for the phrase “first time” in this entire thread. What do you find?

    Ed is arguing I want

    to claim that Nick is saying that the phrase “intelligent design” was actually used the first time in 1987.

    It’s hard to justify that accusation since I never claimed

    Nick is saying that the phrase “intelligent design” was actually used the first time in 1987.

    Where did I say the above? Do a search on the above quote and it will be apparent those words are Ed’s perception of what I said, not what I actually said.

    Ed is putting words in my mouth.

    I’m happy to speculate that the ancient notion of ID was for the first time associated with the body of writings of Kenyon’s “Creation Science”, Thaxton, Bradely, and Olsen’s Mystery of Life’s Origin, and Denton’s notions of Evolution a Theory in Crisis.

    If Nick is arguing that this was to circumvent public law, this would be problmatic on several counts.

    1. If changes were made to make this body of ideas constitutionally acceptable in public schools, there is then nothing unethical here. There is no crime in trying to make a product comply with the law. Sheesh!

    2. If the new label was to make the idea more marketable outside the public school classroom, then it proves Nick was wrong again to suggest this was some conspiracy to invade public schools. It is perfectly acceptable to repackage an idea under a new name in order to attract a following outside of the public school issue.

    3. If the new label helped it attract non-creationists like Michael Behe, William Dembski, David Berlinski, John Angus Campbell, and non-YECs like Walter Bradley, Charles Thaxton, Stephen Meyer, Guillermo Gonzalez, Walter ReMine, Roger Olsen, William Lane Craig, JP Moreland, etc. etc…..—then that even further weakens Nick’s case that it was all about public schools.

    It appears the associating these bodies of ideas under the ancient banner of “intelligent design” was a brilliant strategic move to attract top talent from academia that were uncomfortable with so-called Biblical Creationism.

    Ed is seeing what he wants. He’s not where I am, where I’ve had the chance to snooop and find out if there were some nefarious conspiracy to overtake the Federal government, or whether the IDEA founders are telling me behind the curtain, “hey Sal the whole ID thing is to sneak creationism into the public schools, keep that confidential, just pretend that’s not the real reason you’re in the ID movement”.

    Does Ed think I’m in the ID movement primarily to get creationism taught in the public schools? Does he think Behe wants creationism (as in no common ancestry) taught in the public schools? Does he think the IDEA clubs were formed to get ID into the public schools?

    Actually, even Forrest and Gross admit IDEA wasn’t formed to get ID into public schools. Their own twisted and inaccurate assessement said:

    The Wedge has already acquired two groups of college followers, the Intelligent Design Undergraduate Research Center (IDURC) and the Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Club. The IDURC has become a division of Access Research Network and promotes Wedge books and other products through links to ARN’s website and to commercial sites like Amazon.com…..

    The IDEA Center’s advisory board consists of Wedge members Phillip Johnson, William Dembski, Michael Behe, Jonathan Wells, Jay Wesley Richards, Mark Hartwig, and Francis Beckwith; Dennis Wagner executive director of Access Research Network ……

    The Wedge has always had as a goal the insertion of ID courses into the university curriculum

    Finally the Intelligent Design and Evolution Aawreness Club (IDEA) was formed in May 1999….

    they do represent a a vast potential pool of recruits that the Wedge is cultivating

    Barb Forrest and Paul Gross
    Creationism’s Trojan Horse

    Even by that rather twisted and faulty characterization, it would seem the ID label was to also help recruit at the college level, not public schools. That just utterly destroys Matze hypothesis that ID was aimed primarily at the public schools.

    Well, now this is why I feel that the essential argument has to be carried on at the higher level, at the university level, and it’s interesting you see that the people that come from the NCSE side [as in Nick Matzke] are always trying to say this is just an issue in the high schools

    Phil Johnson

    Oh well, Ed Brayton, believe what you want.

  93. Here’s some comments in response to Barry’s posts to me yesterday. It is likely this discussion isn’t going to go much further, but we’ll see.

    Barry is insistent that we discuss Nietzsche. His reason seems to be that because Nietzsche was a famous materialist philosopher he somehow is a spokesperson for all of materialist belief.

    But that is not true. There are many materialists, some famous and many not, who would disagree with Nietzsche about lots of things. Nietzsche brought many ideas to the table beyond just his lack of belief in the supernatural, and even professional students of philosophy are in pretty wide disagreement about exactly what Nietzsche believed and why he believed it (partially because a lot of Nietzsche’s work was more literary than analytical, unlike most philosopher’s.)

    So it is unreasonable to think that I am somehow obligated to discuss Nietzsche just because I am interested in discussing the materialist viewpoint. To offer a counter-analogy: this is sort of like us sitting down to discuss Christianity and the other person insisting that what I have to do is show the logical flaws in Calvin’s theory of predestination. There is a wide body of thought in Christianity, with many disagreements within Christianity, and the same is true of materialist philosophy.

    I’ll further note that Barry wrote, “Tell me why, once one accepts his materialist premise**s**, Nietzsche was wrong” and “Jack is afraid of Nietzsche, because he knows in his heart of hearts that, given Nietzsche’s premise**s**, his conclusions are inescapable.” [My emphasis on the plural.]

    One of the topics that I have mentioned that Barry has not responded to is the role of logic. As I wrote before, logic is a tool that carries no content of its own. Everyone brings a large number of premises to their philosophical understanding of the world – premises which we arrive at by a combination of experience, emotion, reason, introspection, and ultimately choice. One can agree with Nietzsche that the material world is all there is and disagree with him on many of the other premises upon which he built his thought. Barry gives logic an excessive power that it does not have when we are discussing philosophy.

    I think the reason Barry is enamored of Nietzsche is that Nietzsche represents the far end of a spectrum of materialistic thought, and Barry, being both a staunch anti-materialist and one who appears to see things more in black-and-white than grey, wants Nietzsche to be the representative of materialism so he can stand firmly against it.

    But I don’t accept that. People have a right to think for themselves, and there is no inviolable logic that leads one from believing in a strictly material world to the ideas of Nietzsche. However, Barry doesn’t seem able to consider these other views, dismissing them as cowardly, and dismissing any positive emotions such as love and compassion as “warmed over sentimentality.”

    Given that the topic that actually drew me into this conversation was the statement that theists have an inherent respect for others and materialists have nothing but pragmatic grounds for offering such, I have to say that Barry’s lack of respect for the beliefs of the many people who hold materialist but non-Nietzschian ideas doesn’t bode well for any further constructive conversation.

    I’d also like to say that Barry does not know what is in “my heart of hearts,” and that once again it is a considerable sign of disrespect for him to think he does.

    So I will be happy to continue to discuss my understanding of the spectrum of materialist philosophy with others of you, and I would be glad to discuss the points I have brought up here with Barry, but I am not interested in continuing this unreasonable insistence that Nietzsche is the only reasonable topic.

  94. Jerry –I will tell you one way . . .

    Jerry, It’s a hypothetical i.e. if the standard accepted by the scientific establishment changed dramatically to that of young Earth acceptance, how — for all pratical purposes — would you change?

    For me, not a bit I think. I’m curious as to D.K’s view.

  95. Hi Jack, This is a science blog and as such let’s talk of the merits of the Theistic and materialistic philosophies as they relate to their impact on science.

    1. Materialism did not predict the big bang. Yet Theism always said the universe was created.

    2. Materialism did not predict a sub-atomic (quantum) world that blatantly defies our concepts of time and space. Yet Theism always said the universe is the craftsmanship of God who is not limited by time or space.

    3. Materialism did not predict the fact that time, as we understand it, comes to a complete stop at the speed of light, as revealed by Einstein’s special theory of relativity. Yet Theism always said that God exists in a timeless eternity.
    4. Materialism did not predict the stunning precision for the underlying universal constants for the universe, found in the Anthropic Principle, which allows life as we know it to be possible. Yet Theism always said God laid the foundation of the universe, so the stunning, unchanging, clockwork precision found for the various universal constants is not at all unexpected for Theism.
    5 Materialism predicted that complex life in this universe should be fairly common. Yet statistical analysis of the many required parameters that enable complex life to be possible on earth reveals that the earth is extremely unique in its ability to support complex life in this universe. Theism would have expected the earth to be extremely unique in this universe in its ability to support complex life.
    6. Materialism did not predict the fact that the DNA code is, according to Bill Gates, far, far more advanced than any computer code ever written by man. Yet Theism would have naturally expected this level of complexity in the DNA code.
    7. Materialism presumed a extremely beneficial and flexible mutation rate for DNA, which is not the case at all. Yet Theism would have naturally presumed such a high if not, what most likely is, complete negative mutation rate to an organism’s DNA.
    8. Materialism presumed a very simple first life form. Yet the simplest life ever found on Earth is, according to Geneticist Michael Denton PhD., far more complex than any machine man has made through concerted effort. Yet Theism would have naturally expected this level of complexity for the “simplest” life on earth.
    9. Materialism predicted that it took a very long time for life to develop on earth. Yet we find evidence for “complex” photo-synthetic life in the oldest sedimentary rocks ever found on earth (Nov. 7, 1996, study in Nature). Theism would have naturally expected this sudden appearance of life on earth.
    10. Materialism predicted the gradual unfolding of life to be self-evident in the fossil record. The Cambrian Explosion, by itself, destroys this myth. Yet Theism would have naturally expected such sudden appearance of the many different and completely unique fossils in the Cambrian explosion.

    11. Materialism predicted that there should be numerous transitional fossils found in the fossil record. Yet fossils are characterized by sudden appearance in the fossil record and overall stability as long as they stay in the fossil record. There is not one clear example of unambiguous transition between major species out of millions of collected fossils. Theism would have naturally expected fossils to suddenly appear in the fossil record with stability afterwards as well as no evidence of transmutation into radically new forms.

    I could probably go a lot further for the evidence is extensive and crushing against the Materialistic philosophy. As stated before, an overriding hypothesis in science, such as Materialism currently is, is suppose to give correct guidance to scientists. Materialism has failed miserably in its predictive power for science. The hypothesis with the strongest predictive power in science is “suppose” to be the prevailing philosophy of science. That philosophy should be Theism.

    Now Jack I ask you why should materialism be given anything other than a subservient role to the more accurate hypothesis of Theism?

  96. tribune7,

    You said:

    “It’s a hypothetical i.e. if the standard accepted by the scientific establishment changed dramatically to that of young Earth acceptance, how — for all practical purposes — would you change?”

    I would feel very queasy in such a society because it would be similar to Alice in Wonderland not knowing what is up and what is down. What would be considered true would be as the discretion of the latest incarnation of Cotton Mather. I would desperately want out of such a society and so would just about everyone I know.

  97. Ah yes, in a pre-Dover, moment of Truth, Eugenie Scott tells it like it is:

    Antievolutionism and Creationism in the United States

    INTELLIGENT DESIGN

    In 1989, shortly after the Edwards Supreme Court decision, Of Pandas and People, a supplemental textbook for high school biology, was published (Davis and Kenyon 1989). Its publication signified the increasing OEC influence in the neocreationist antievolution movement, and introduced the term Intelligent Design (ID). ID is promoted primarily by university-based antievolutionists who tend to be PCs rather than YECs. Dean Kenyon, for example, a tenured professor of biology at San Francisco State University, and Percival Davis, whoteaches at a public college, Hillsborough Community College, in Tampa, Florida, advocate ID.

    ID is a lineal descendent of William Paley’s Argument from Design (Paley 1803,) which argued that God’s existence could be proved by examining his works. Paley used a metaphor: He claimed that if one found an intricately contrived watch, it was obvious that such a thing could not have come together by chance. The existence of a watch implied a watchmaker who had designed the watch with a purpose in mind. Similarly, because there is order, purpose, and design in the world, so naturally there is an omniscient designer. The existence of God was proven by the presence of order and intricacy.

    The vertebrate eye was Paley’s classic example, well known to educated people of the nineteenth century, of design in nature. Darwin deliberately used the example of the vertebrate eye in The Origin of Species to demonstrate how complexity and intricate design could come about through natural selection, which of course is not a chance phenomenon. In creationist literature, evolution is synonomous with chance. In scientific accounts, there are random or chance elements in the generation of genetic variation, but natural selection, acting upon this genetic variation, is the antithesis of chance. In the PC tradition, ID allows for a fair amount of microevolution, but supporters deny that mutation and natural selection are adequate to explain the evolution of one “kind” to another, such as chordates from echinoderms, or human beings from apes. These and the origin of life are too complex to be explained naturally, thus ID demands a role be left for the intelligent designer, God.

    ID literature is more sophisticated than creation science literature, perhaps because it is (except for Of Pandas and People) usually directed more toward a university audience than to the general public, at least up to now

    That was Eugenie Scott accurately describing the ID movement in 1997!

    Nick Matzke loses this round. I was right, ID was aimed for another audience.

    In the mid to late 1990s, university-based antievolutionism is a small but growing movement. For now, participants are dwarfed in both number and effectiveness by the more public efforts of organizations like the ICR, with its Back to Genesis road shows and media programs. YEC is still the most frequently-encountered antievolutionism that K-12 teachers have to cope with, but more and more it is being augmented by “arguments against evolution,” ID or other neocreationist positions. However, because a university-based antievolution movement has great potential to reach future decision-makers (who are being educated in universities today), this component of the movement may be highly influential in the future, even if it is small today. Future generations of college graduates may think that books like those of Johnson or Behe represent modern scientific scholarship on science and evolution. This will only exacerbate the problem of antievolution at the K-12 level and in the general public: After all, members of Congress, captains of industry, and members of local school boards are college graduates.

    Eugenie Scott

  98. Following up:

    Let us first note how Sal, in trying to address the main issue from the head of the thread, is having to repeatedly deal with personalities that amount to saying “you are a lying — so, bad — man, so we don’t have to listen to you.” This is not just an [IMHCO distracting and largely irrelevant] ad hominem, but it reveals that the issues at the core of the debates on design as a re-emerging scientific paradigm have a deeply moral character.

    So the other major theme in the thread — the implications of evolutionary materialist premises for morality [and mind] — are seen to be in fact very relevant to the overall issue.

    Now, too, on following the thread up to date, I cannot but see a consistent failure to address the actual core challenge to materialists in the thread, namely, on the logic of the implications of evolutionary materialist worldviews. Even the reply by JK to Barry A was in effect a bare assertion that it was some of Nietzsche’s “other” premises that led to his problems, not his materialism per se. Of course, missing in action is just what these “other” premises are and how core materialist premises do not in fact undermine the worldview and cultural foundations of morality [and mind]. (JK could of course remedy this by addressing my summary first given in 49, but he elected not to; perhaps, unsurprisingly – Barry A seems on first glance to be the easier rhetorical target.)

    So now to some highlighted points:

    1] DK, 83: I repeat: for practical purposes it is irrelevant whether the non-theist (a class that includes “evolutionary materialists” as a subset) has a “proper” warrant by your lights for his moral behavior or for his rationality.

    H’mm, that first reminds me of a classic story of two houses built, one with a sound foundation on rock, the other on shifting sand. When times were okay, both served their purpose well enough, but what happened when there was a storm and a raging flood? [For the culturally illiterate: Cf the end of the Sermon on the Mount.]

    In short, foundations are practically important, very practically important, precisely especially when there is a crisis that reveals weak-points in how we operate as individuals, institutions and cultures. And, here the core point at issue is not my whimsical criteria for warrant [note the atempted shift to an ad hominem premised on relativism], but the widely acknowledged challenges of the project of philosophy proper, namely its quest to undertake the comparative difficulties challenge across live option worldviews, inter alia to see which ones are more likely to withstand the storms of time and life.

    The three major CDs tests as just linked [from an intro to phil course], embrace: factual adequacy, coherence, and explanatory elegance and power. So far in this thread we can easily enough see that:

    –> The Judaeo-Christian based western theistic worldview is factually adequate [it accounts for the moral intuitions we all have very well, indeed is in large part large focussed on addressing them], is coherent on morality [and IMHCO, generally], and powerfully and elegantly explains the why of morality.

    –> The evolutionary materialist view is challenged to account for the fact that we have and trust minds and associated moral intuitions, by virtue of its want of a credible basis for the mind is evidently incoherent, and by direct extension is wand ting badly in explanatory power. In fact it has largely subsisted off the intellectual, moral and cultural capital of Western Theism, even as it seeks to undermine the foundation of that capital. (And if the likes of a Peter Singer — cf the Aug 23 Open Society thread — are harbingers of what is to come, when that capital collapses, the results will be nastily destructive in the extreme.)

    2] I choose to set that matter aside . . .

    No, DK, the mater is not as simple as that, nor cvan you shift it to an implied project in evangelism which you are uninterested in, for while the state of our souls before God may well come up, there is also a lot else at stake that does not allow you the option to duck out like that, not without consequences.

    For, we have institutionally powerful secularist progressivist agendas that are asserting a right to determine the direction of a whole civilisation and are busily attempting to de-legitimise and in many cases even demonise and scapegoat those who would challenge this, as even potential terrorists and tyrants; Ms Amanpour’s hit piece over at CNN being only the latest example [I now have protests from my Jewish friends . . .], and the upcoming conference mentioned in the Open Society Thread being another.

    When such an agenda is on the table, one may not dodge or divert such serious questions like that – not without the consequences of ceding the right to us to infer likely motives and act prudently, promptly and vigorously in our defence. (Cf my cite from Locke at, ironically/ providentially, post no 76 if you are wondering what I mean.)

    . . .

  99. 3] Citing Haidt’s paper in Science: People are selfish, yet morally motivated. Morality is universal, yet culturally variable. Such apparent contradictions are dissolving as research from many disciplines converges on a few shared principles, including the importance of moral intuitions, the socially functional (rather than truth-seeking) nature of moral thinking, and the coevolution of moral minds with cultural practices and institutions that create diverse moral communities.

    In short, the state of humanity is as Western Theism expects, explains and describes, but the currently academically dominant evolutionary materialist view struggles to explain morality and the challenge of being moral in the face of moral intuitions and experiences.

    Haidt then resorts to relativist explanations . . .

    (a) the pragmatics rather than the reality based foundations of morals [i.e if immoral behaviour spreads across a culture it is destructive so morality is functionally advantageous for a culture – and let's not discuss the moral and intellectual significance of truth as that which says of what is that it is and of what is not that it is not], and

    (b) the impact of cultural institutions that seek to instill moral behaviour, all neatly blended with the term “coevolution.”

    In short, the Science paper in reviewing the state of the art in the discussion of morality in today’s academy underscores the sorts of concerns raised by me starting in 49 above and by many others above.

    4] Haidt’s proposal: Morality is about more than harm and fairness. More research is needed on the collective and religious parts of the moral domain, such as loyalty, authority, and spiritual purity.

    He correctly intuits that morality is about more than harm and fairness, as these inter alia raise the issue of the value of the objects “harmed” or treated “fairly.”

    Thence, we see the links straight to the Creation-rooted, theistically articulated themes of the US DOI of 1776 (and in its underlying context, cf here too):

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, [cf Rom 1:18 - 21, 2:14 - 15], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . .

    “Self-evident truths” is a vital concept in this cite –- deny the following truths and you end up in incoherence. And we can see that being abundantly demonstrated in this thread.

    Thus, too, the centrality of the issue of truth to the value of the human being thence her or his moral worth and the binding nature of his moral claims to life, liberty and the pursuit of his purpose in life [what “happiness” in this C18 context was about].

    5] DK, 8: for one thing, I would be suffering from cognitive dissonance!

    We do not have to go to discussions on YEC claims to get to evidence of cognitive dissonance on the part of evolutionary materialists, in this thread! (In fact this is the simple psychological consequence of the abundantly evident incoherence of the worldview, once it is challenged to ground its claims.)

    . . .

  100. 6] Jerry, 90: I feel the same way about Darwinists and Theists on evolutionary science. They too are driven by ideology on anything related to evolutionary science. Most of understand the ideology basis for Darwinists but the more I read about the Theists, I see the same thing.

    If you mean that people are driven by their worldviews, that is plain. But the decisive issue is what is the state of the case on the merits of fact and logic, not accidents of personal psychology in light of core beliefs. Or else, we are back at the plainly destructive idea that if I can impugn your worldview and infer to alleged nefarious motives, I can dismiss what you have to say. (Consider just for a moment that sometimes, worldviews can motivate people to seek truth, and in some cases, to then change their minds about what they believe.)

    Indeed, that is in part why I am taking time to engage this issue in this thread at length like this. Let us put personalities to the side and engage the issues seriously on the merits.

    For instance, if my reasoning since the mid 80′s on evolutionary materialism is wrong, help me see why, by correcting on the merits my reasoning as summarised in 49 above, down to the just above.

    7] JK, 92: . . . the statement that theists have an inherent respect for others and materialists have nothing but pragmatic grounds for offering such [Kindly provide the post number for this . . .]

    If any Judaeo-Christian derived theists said that theists as a body of individuals all have such an inherent individual respect for others at all times, above, they are in error, and that was long since more than adequately corrected on our side of the discussion, with details given above. (I suspect though that what was being said or attempted was that theistic worldviews adequately GROUND respect for others as say the US DOI of 1776 summarises; but evolutionary materialist worldviews run into difficulties identifying such a value on the individual that confers rights etc beyond mere “might makes right” and whatever political agreements happen to across time derive from that which it is in the prudential interests of today’s power brokers to for the moment preserve at least in name. But as the shadow shows in the Plato’s caves of the Academy and the media shift perceptions and votes, across time, anything goes. Thence, cultural suicide.)

    As to your onward statement on Barry’s alleged lack of respect for the beliefs of the many people who hold materialist but non-Nietzschian ideas, I think this is not good enough.

    Barry may indeed have made mistakes and may have stumbled , but in essence his core challenge was that materialists have a problem with grounding their beliefs, a problem that has momentous implications as I described just above at point 4 in no 98.

    In that light your onward remarks on how this “doesn’t bode well for any further constructive conversation” sounds too much like inappropriately personalising an issue that is bigger than that, an easy, well-known rhetorical “out” when one cannot answer seriously on the merits.

    If Barry erred [as we all do], correct him then seriously answer to the merits, please. (Otherwise, sadly, you may be illustrating the precise things you most object to in his remarks.)

    8] JK, 92: Barry is insistent that we discuss Nietzsche. His reason seems to be that because Nietzsche was a famous materialist philosopher he somehow is a spokesperson for all of materialist belief. But that is not true. There are many materialists, some famous and many not, who would disagree with Nietzsche about lots of things.

    Jack, Barry was a lot more nuanced than you imply, and my own summary of the issue has no reference to Nietzsche as such.

    The key issue was, is Nietzsche starting from the core materialist premises and do his conclusions stem from those premises? Asserting that other materialists disagree does not answer to that – they could be simply in denial, for instance.

    Why not take on my core summary – would Nietzsche and other materialists agree that matter-energy, purposeless laws and chance, through evolutions from hydrogen to humans are the driving forces of the “real” world in which we live? That reality as we observe it thus derives from these blind forces, including our minds and moral views, as filtered through chemistry, biology and accidents of history and culture – so, inter alia mind and morality are driven by forces irrelevant to truth, purpose and validity or soundness?

    If that is so, IMHCO, the consequences I outlined in 49 and that Nietzsche outlined in the cite Barry gave in 43 follow, not from Nietzsche’s idiosyncrasies, but instead from the common-core theses of evolutionary materialism, and lead to utter incoherence and moral-cultural bankruptcy.

    THAT is the issue that needs to be taken up.

    GEM of TKI

  101. Sal, 98:

    I think you have a point, but overlooked a key implication and onward rhetorical agenda, in your cite from Ms Scot, as can be seen in her:

    ID is a lineal descendent of William Paley’s Argument from Design (Paley 1803,) which argued that God’s existence could be proved by examining his works. Paley used a metaphor: He claimed that if one found an intricately contrived watch, it was obvious that such a thing could not have come together by chance. The existence of a watch implied a watchmaker who had designed the watch with a purpose in mind. Similarly, because there is order, purpose, and design in the world, so naturally there is an omniscient designer. The existence of God was proven by the presence of order and intricacy . . .

    While Paley had and has a point, in fact there is a crucial difference between design theory in science and the argument from design to God as designer. Namely, as even the ever so humble Pandas points out:

    This book has a single goal: to present data from six areas of science that bear on the central question of biological origins. We don’t propose to give final answers, nor to unveil The Truth. Our purpose, rather, is to help readers understand origins better, and to see why the data may be viewed in more than one way. (Of Pandas and People, 2nd ed. 1993, pg. viii) . . . .

    Today we recognize that appeals to intelligent design may be considered in science, as illustrated by current NASA search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Archaeology has pioneered the development of methods for distinguishing the effects of natural and intelligent causes. We should recognize, however, that if we go further, and conclude that the intelligence responsible for biological origins is outside the universe (supernatural) or within it, we do so without the help of science. (pg. 126-127, emphasis added)

    In short, Ms Scot was implying (and should have known better, even in 1997) that ID is religion in the guise of science, when in fact it is not and that is why it draws a line on where empirical data can properly establish relative to science, and where philosophy — metaphysics in particular [= “beyond physics”] — takes over.

    TMLO –BTW, I think this was also an ID-friendly College level textbook — says something quite similar when it points out that inferring design on the context of the nano-technology of cell-level life does not by itself support the further inference to a conclusion on whether life as we see it reflects a designer beyond the cosmos or within it.

    I am not sure if it was you or Dave S that I had a dispute with on the significance of the cosmological side of ID, but as my always linked summarises, this part highlights that border. For here we are asking on the origins of a finely tuned, intricately complex cosmos as we observe it that so happens to be very friendly to life as we know it. Design by a powerful intelligent agent intending to make a cosmos supporting of life, or some sort of quasi-infinite array of sub cosmi with parameters scattered at random are the two obvious alternatives. On further inspection the latter turns out to be also sufficiently wondrous to point to intelligent agency, as I discuss based on Leslie et al – LOCAL finetuning is also wondrous, just as seeing a fly on a wall in isolation get hit by a bullet, to which the “fact” that a mile away there is a carpet of flies on another section of the wall is utterly irrelevant.

    Collins’ universe-making factory example is also apt on this – how do you cook up a life-habitable cosmos, without producing the equivalent of a sadly failed burned and lump that would have been a loaf of bread.

    Thence we see the grounds for a serious on the merits comparative difficulties discussion in light of the constraint of evidence of design. But that is in phil, not science. [And Ms Scot evidently wishes to keep the evidence from science out of that discussion in the culture at large by subtly impugning motives and implying agendas.]

    GEM of TKI

  102. kairosfocus,

    When I said Theists in my comment, I really meant to say Theistic Evolutionists and I only suspect them on evolutionary biology. I have read some of their books and read their website at ASA and find that many of them are driven by a theology that presupposes Darwinism.

    Right now some are arguing amongst themselves on Behe’s book and it is interesting to see how some dismiss Behe’s ideas out of hand without considering its merits. Interesting is that Pim van Meurs is one of their cheerleaders but I gather most believe he is an annoyance rather than a source of information.

  103. Jerry

    Thanks for the clarification – it helps make your context clear. (And judging by some of what Mr Ken Miller has done, sadly, you have a serious point.)

    I do, however, still hold that the point I made that there is a problem of attacking the man and his position by labelling and dismissing, is irrelevant to the core questions.

    So — again — let’s hear from the defenders of materialism on the merits . . . emergent properties and pragmatic coevolution having plainly failed.

    GEM of TKI

  104. Jerry–I would feel very queasy in such a society because it would be similar to Alice in Wonderland not knowing what is up and what is down.

    That’s the society we live in now. Our understanding of nature has changed drastically many times just in the history of modern science.

    Galilio overthrew geocentricism which many very smart and honest people (Francis Bacon for example) accepted dogmatically.

    Einstein’s physics surplanted those of Newton creating an earthquake.

    And — w/regard to Alice in Wonderland — consider quantum mechanics.

    The point is that one should not base one’s value system on one’s understanding of nature.

    The “moral” is spiritually based and has to be the magisterial area that trumps in all conflicts with the measurable.

  105. KF–We do not have to go to discussions on YEC claims to get to evidence of cognitive dissonance on the part of evolutionary materialists, in this thread!

    Excellent way to make a point, KF!!!!

  106. tribute7,

    I do not have any problem accepting new scientific theories, just ones which flow arbitrarily from theology. You do not know when the next arbitrary theory will be promulgated for adherence and the consequences of such a theory. Cotton Mather had people hanged based on some of his nonsense ideas. The Spanish Inquisition is still a staple for citing religious excess.

    If YEC science proved valid, I would not have any problem but at the moment it defies credibility and the only reason for its existence is to shore up a religious belief. So as I said, what next?

    Galileo did not overthrow geocentricism. The honor should go to Copernicus and then Kepler and there were others before them who proposed heliocentrism. The parallax problem was not solved till 1838 so until that time there was no proof for heliocentricism. Also the theory of Tycho Brae fit the data better than did Galileo’s theory.

    Galileo had a lot of nonsense ideas mainly about tides and their causes. His view of heliocentrism was also wrong. He also stuck his nose into things that had tremendous political implications and for that he was put under house arrest not because of this scientific theories. His martyrdom for science was essentially a fiction drummed up a century later and still persists today.

    It wasn’t Galileo’s science that caused problems and led to his internment. He was causing problems in the midst of the 30 Year War and was being used for political purposes in this war between the Hapsbugs and France who were enemies. Both of which were Catholic.

  107. Jerry –I do not have any problem accepting new scientific theories, just ones which flow arbitrarily from theology.

    Go back and look at my post 90.

    I don’t think you and I are in disagreement. Remember post 90 was a response to D.K. w/regard to a discussion about the source of moralty.

    If a new paradigm about nature should arise, I doubt that you or I would change our value system. But would a materialist?

  108. kf #98:

    For, we have institutionally powerful secularist progressivist agendas that are asserting a right to determine the direction of a whole civilisation and are busily attempting to de-legitimise and in many cases even demonise and scapegoat those who would challenge this, as even potential terrorists and tyrants; Ms Amanpour’s hit piece over at CNN being only the latest example [I now have protests from my Jewish friends . . .], and the upcoming conference mentioned in the Open Society Thread being another.

    When such an agenda is on the table, one may not dodge or divert such serious questions like that – not without the consequences of ceding the right to us to infer likely motives and act prudently, promptly and vigorously in our defence.

    I take this as your personal opinion, and therefore trust that you will not charge me with an ad hominem argument if I comment:

    You have made your concerns about naturalism clear. I agree and sympathize; naturalism undermines theism, as it did in ancient Greece and has done throughout the Western intellectual tradition, especially since the 16th century.

    But I disagree with your view that there is an agenda-driven movement afoot. I don’t see it, feel it in my bones, or intuit it. Some naturalists and secularists are militant and movement-minded, but I respectfully submit that many (probably most) of us just want to tend our gardens. If you believe that we who are not with you are against you, I wonder what tactics you might use to attract us to your defense.

  109. Tribune7,

    In science I follow what I believe the truth is anywhere it leads. I don’t see this in Darwinists, YEC’s or Theistic Evolutionists when it comes to evolutionary biology and for YEC’s when it comes to anything that contradicts the age of the earth being very short. I also worry about what other agendas the YEC’s may have just as I recognize the dangers of the agendas of the materialists. I find it hard to walk with one group who does not speak the truth in order to counter another group that doesn’t speak the truth. I rather counter falsehoods with truth not another set of falsehoods.

    While I agree that the YEC’s are generally correct on their interpretation of materialism and its implications, their solution to it I find almost as objectionable because falsehoods never lead to good. Also I am not comfortable with what they might do if they had any political power.

    Daniel King,

    “I wonder what tactics you might use to attract us to your defense.”

    How about freedom to speak. I assume you will support the search for truth too and object to attempts to suppress others from criticizing theories which have no empirical backing. Would you get out of your garden to object when others who claim there is no empirical support for gradualism in evolutionary biology but are then not allowed to speak their piece becausse of a threat of sanction. Or will you continue to hide behind your plants and then wash your hands of any involvement. You have choices. What will your choose?

  110. Jerry, you are missing my point.

    The science that indicates an Old Earth is honest and good.

    But so was Newtonian physics.

    Now, suppose something — in science — comes along that just turns everything we have done w/regards to determining the age of the Earth on its head. (Note: this has not happened. This is a hypothetical.)

    Would your outlook change?

  111. jerry #109:

    Would you get out of your garden to object when others who claim there is no empirical support for gradualism in evolutionary biology but are then not allowed to speak their piece becausse of a threat of sanction. Or will you continue to hide behind your plants and then wash your hands of any involvement. You have choices. What will your choose?

    Looks like both sides in this dispute want to make it into an apocalyptic fight.

    Enjoy yourselves.

  112. Also I am not comfortable with what they might do if they had any political power.

    You and me both, and I’m supposedly one of them.

    I’ve been working very hard trying to solve some YEC science questions. Have any of those evangelists so much as lifted a finger to help in the research? Heck, no. Rather, I get chided for making the public aware of the difficulties.

    On the other hand, there are a small minority of YECs like myself that think the empirical case will prevail. I wouldn’t count them out just yet. I was an OEC 6 years ago until it became evident the Big Bang cosmology was collapsing. David Berlinski has an excellent article on the topic at the DI website.

    It might be advisable not to shut off the empirical debate in ones mind on YEC just yet. The case has more promise than one may be giving it credit for.

    But if one is prejudiced against YEC because of the attitudes of some YECs, I can’t blame them.

  113. Daniel,

    You said

    “Looks like both sides in this dispute want to make it into an apocalyptic fight.”

    Not true. How did you arrive at that from a paragraph that just said one side is being suppressed and wants its side heard. No apocalyptic fight, just a hearing of its ideas.

    tribune7,

    I will follow the data wherever it leads. I have nothing philosophically against a young earth. The world lived with this assumption for quite awhile and I don’t see how it was held back in anyway but I am not sure that is still true. It just doesn’t compute based on what we know today.

    Somebody will have to explain the mid Atlantic Ridge and the alternating magnetic strips on the ocean floor and about 500 other things. So it’s a hypothetical but one of so low probability that it makes the origin of life by natural means look like a piece of cake.

  114. Jerry,

    Exactly!!!!

  115. Somebody will have to explain the mid Atlantic Ridge and the alternating magnetic strips on the ocean floor and about 500 other things.

    Reading Walter Brown’s work, I learned that the “alternating” stripes were not actually reversed polarity lines…they were actually increases and decreases of magnetic strength, like a sine wave. Sure, you can draw an arbitrary line through the center of wave and call everything of less strength “negative”, but you can just as easily draw the line at the base of the wave, calling that zero, and say that there are regular pulses of magnetism that occurred.

    See Walter Brown’s YEC site for more details, I just browsed a while back.

    Don’t be surprised if geological work is also interprested in odd, gradualistic ways, even when that is not the only or even the best interpretation.

  116. So it’s a hypothetical but one of so low probability that it makes the origin of life by natural means look like a piece of cake.

    I respect that you believe that, but my assessment is that it is inconclusive on both ends of the question, it is not by any means settled empirically. If you visit the http://www.YoungCosmos.com you’ll see a very balanced debate with good arguments from both sides.

    It is actually good to mention all this here because the issue of ID’s origin came up and it’s relation to creation science. If the reader wishes to compare my writings in the ID movement with my writings for the creation science movement they can visit http://www.YoungCosmos.com.

    It will be a good way for the readers to actually compare modern creation science with modern ID. It would be hard to say that they are in any way identical.

    Salvador

  117. BarryA you wrote:

    Mentok writes: “I’ve seen the argument for some time now from theists that without belief in a God that there is no basis for moral or ethical behavior,”

    I never said this. The issue is not whether people who don’ believe in God can be moral and ethical. Of course they can. The issue is whether they can articulate a logical basis for their behavior other than pure sentiment. Jack Krebs, an obviously intelligent man, could not. Judging by what you write here, neither can you.

    Barry I didn’t say you had said what I said. As for your claim that it is only sentiment which is a logical basis for people’s behavior without a belief in God, and that I couldn’t give any other reason, I have to disagree. I mentioned both empathy (which I guess can be seen as sentiment but it can also be seen as reason) and also conditioning.

    It isn’t sentimental to be afraid to break the law and go to prison. In most countries there are laws which enforce a fairly strict moral and ethical code. People are conditioned from birth that by breaking certain moral and ethical rules that they will have to suffer if caught by the law enforement apparatus.

    You can claim that the basis for the law is based upon sentiment or that it is based upon religious beliefs. But we can see that in most countries outside of the Islamic world the laws are not religiously based. They are based upon the idea of what is best for the common good, reason, not sentiment. It isn’t sentiment which inspires these moral and ethical laws, it’s the seeking to live in a society where people can live safe and free from the exploitation of immoral and unethical people. Self preservation and freedom from harm are not sentimental reasons to be ethical and moral. Sentiment implies decisions based on emotion. The laws and people’s willingness to follow their moral and ethical restrictions are based on reason, not sentiment.

    BarryA you also wrote:

    Mentock writes: “ and that having belief in God is the sole cause of peoples morality and ethics.”

    I never said this either. As I mentioned, many materialists are trying to take a free ride on our culture’s Judeo-Christian moral capital. This is becoming more and more difficult as that capital dwindles.

    Again, I never said you did. A society can seek self preservation and the seeking to live in a world where justice and freedom are real and not simply be about “taking a free ride on Judeo-Christian” moral capital.” It’s doesn’t take a religious commandment to see the sense it makes to create laws and to systematically instill moral and ethical education on the citizenry for the common good. All it takes it intelligence and the desire to live a secure happy life. That is not sentiment, that is reason.

    BarryA you also wrote:

    Mentok writes: “So it is definitely possible to be moral and ethical and have reason to be so if you are a materialist.”

    Of course it is. You see, there are no real materialists. The Bible says that God has put eternity in our hearts and that we all know at the innermost core of our being that His law exists and we transgress it at our peril. The most dyed-in-the-wool atheist still feels the tug of the law of the God he denies on his heart.

    It’s not “we all know at the innermost core of our being that His law exists and we transgress it at our peril”, many people don’t “know” that at all or they have completely different conception about what God’s law is. What exists at the core of our being is God, the soul of our soul. It is God’s presence as our conscience, nudging us towards empathy, which most can feel (not all, some people are mentally disturbed). Being good because it is the law is a lower form of consciousness then being good because it is the right thing to be. I am not impressed by people who are good because they are afraid to be bad, I am impressed by people who are good because they don’t want to be bad, who don’t want to harm others because of their empathy for the suffering of others, who actually desire to aid others and give love. I am sure God feels the same.

  118. All (especially onlookers):

    Isn’t it interesting to see what happens to the case for evolutionary materialism when the issue of the incoherence of this worldview, as just linked in outline, comes up seriously in a forum where by virtue of a strong moderation policy discussions cannot run off into nasty personalities and the like?

    [Observe in particular, how the issue of failure in grounding what we all experience -- that morality is binding – stands in effect unanswered after many days, two failed but at least serious attempts (Tyke's emergent properties, Haidt's pragmatic coevolution) and over 50 posts since the issue came up explicitly. Worse, the associated and underlying issue that the worldview itself is fundamentally incoherent as unable to ground the credibility of the very minds required to think even materialist thoughts has not even been even addressed. Note what that is telling us, in light of the now infamous shadow-shows in the parable of Plato's Cave, given the dominance of this worldview in the academy, the education systems, the media culture and the various cultural elites of leading Western nations -- if there were a solid answer, it would be everywhere across the Internet, just a search and a click away. So bear this in mind as we continue to take on particular points raised, which are too often on distractions or weak caricatures of the actual case to be faced.]

    Now, on points of note (a pity they are on side issues in the main):

    1] DK, 108: I agree and sympathize; naturalism undermines theism, as it did in ancient Greece and has done throughout the Western intellectual tradition, especially since the 16th century.

    This is a diversion to an unfortunately strawmannish side-issue [and in the teeth of repeated direct statemets of the issue]. For, that the movement of naturalism has promoted an apostasising of especially the educated elites of Western culture from God over the past 200 or so years, is not in dispute. [And such is to be expected in light of say Rom 1:19 – 2:15, once men lose sight of gratitude to God and vaunt themselves in their imaginations. What classical Judaeo-Christian theism contends [cf here Ps 53 etc too], is that such is always in the end irrational, and we can subject that to the test of reason relative to evident facts.]

    Thus, the real issue to be properly addressed, as repeatedly stated, is that [a] evolutionary materialism (a descriptive term, cf. linked supra), whether in the form naturalism or otherwise, fails to ground morality relative to its premises – the notorious is-ought gap, and [b] said evolutionary materialism also self-refers and fails to ground the credibility of the mind, due to its inherent undermining. That such a condescending diversion of focus now appears at length is telling as to the balance of the case above on the merits.

    2] I disagree with your view that there is an agenda-driven movement afoot. I don’t see it, feel it in my bones, or intuit it. Some naturalists and secularists are militant and movement-minded, but I respectfully submit that many (probably most) of us just want to tend our gardens.

    Your agreement or disagreement may tell us interesting things about your personal psychology and/or even the effects of the subterranean shadow shows as mentioned and linked above, but again that is besides the point.

    In the excerpt in 1 you spoke of a spreading (and by implication accelerating) rejection of the western theistic tradition over the past several centuries; such plainly does not happen without movements that propagate it. QED.

    Your acknowledgement that “[s]ome naturalists and secularists are militant and movement-minded” simply clinches a point hat would be obvious from the behaviour of Mr Padian and Ms Scott of NCSE, the staff of the Smithsonian in their ostracism and career-busting of Mr Sternberg, the ongoing case with Mr Gonzalez, the shoddy ACLU-copycat decision – blatant misrepresentations and factual errors and all — by Judge Jones over in Dover, the insistence on removal by court order of any and all even historically warranted references to the Judaeo-Christian roots of Western Culture, the militancy of the likes of a Dawkins or a Harris, the secularist PC culture on many campuses and in many education system, the bigoted behaviour of Germany’s past Chancellor in his repudiation of Mr Bush, the breathless accusation against Mr Bush and Mr Blair in the UK media that they may have “prayed together,” Ms Amanpour’s current attempt to morally equate Christians and Jews with Islamist terrorists on CNN, the publication of a blatantly fact-challenged letter by Mr Harris in the premier science journal, Nature, the abusive use of terms like “fundamentalist,” “theocracy,” etc, etc, etc.

    So, hiding in the garden won’t answer to the key issues on the table. Namely, there is a militantly secularist, so-called progressivist movement whose worldview is anchored in the worldview of evolutionary materialism, often in the guise “Science.” In turn, that evolutionary materialism, on the merits, is [a] evidently unable to properly ground morality, and also [b] evidently self-referentially and inescapably undercuts the credibility of the minds that one needs to think even materialist thoughts. So, it is self-referentially absurd.

    3] I wonder what tactics you might use to attract us [hiding-in-the-garden materialists] to your defense.

    Note the emotively loaded words. Sigh . . .

    More on point, I think the issue is not to “attract” but to call: call to duty under intellectual integrity, and to duty before simple justice, on pain of revealing oneself to be an enabler of oppression, deceit and injustice.

    If the points Barry A, Tribune, Jerry, I and many others have made and the challenges we have raised are in error, correct us on the merits – shouldn’t be hard to do with challenges that have been in the public for decades. If it turns out that our challenges are sound, you have a duty to turn from error and follow the truth and the right, a duty that as cited from Rom 2:6 ff, is also at least potentially loaded with eternal consequences.

    . . .

  119. 4] DK, 111: Looks like both sides in this dispute want to make it into an apocalyptic fight. Enjoy yourselves.

    Please, please, let us address the issues on the merits.

    They are serious issues, that are worthy of a response. Failing such, we have a right, maybe even a duty, to draw prudential conclusions and act in accordance with them under the points made in the Locke excerpt in 76 above.

    5] Mentok, 117: As for your [Barry's] claim that it is only sentiment which is a logical basis for people’s behavior without a belief in God, and that I couldn’t give any other reason, I have to disagree. I mentioned both empathy (which I guess can be seen as sentiment but it can also be seen as reason) and also conditioning.

    Sorry, but first, this does not accurately reflect the point made by Barry: The issue is not whether people who don’ believe in God can be moral and ethical. Of course they can. The issue is whether they can articulate a logical basis for their behavior other than pure sentiment.

    In further responding you first listed “empathy.” But, empathy is, literally, “to feel with” someone else, i.e. it is a motivation rather than a logical warrant. Duty under morality goes beyond empathy and in fact seeks to awaken it; e.g. that is part of the “put yourself in the other’s shoes and imagine how you would feel and think about that” component of the Golden Rule. For, too often we dehumanise or even demonise and distance ourselves from those we would oppress or refuse to come to the aid of.

    Conditioning is equally double-edged. Whether classical or operant or more generally socio-cultural, this boils down to reacting to environmental pressures and perhaps being habituated in those responses. But, conditioning is a mechanism, not a warrant. E.g., how then can we object to another’s conditioning that leads him to be a racist in say pre-1994 South Africa? Or, to the Nazi Nuremberg defence that their behaviour was according to the duly instituted and enacted laws and customs etc of their own country and its properly elected and appointed leaders? (Or, what about is there our own conditioning that makes us prefer it to the reaction of a Boer or a Nazi? So, is it just a matter of who wins the fight in the end? [In short, we see here a pointer to rampant relativism, and to “might makes right.”])

    6] in most countries outside of the Islamic world the laws are not religiously based. They are based upon the idea of what is best for the common good, reason, not sentiment. It isn’t sentiment which inspires these moral and ethical laws, it’s the seeking to live in a society where people can live safe and free from the exploitation of immoral and unethical people . . . . A society can seek self preservation and the seeking to live in a world where justice and freedom are real and not simply be about “taking a free ride on Judeo-Christian” moral capital.” It’s doesn’t take a religious commandment to see the sense it makes to create laws and to systematically instill moral and ethical education on the citizenry for the common good. All it takes it intelligence and the desire to live a secure happy life. That is not sentiment, that is reason.

    I have highlighted some of the terms which presume the validity of moral intuitions. But the issue is not whether one is wise to act in accordance with such intuitions or even whether that is empirically justified, but, whether evolutionary materialism, relative to its premises, can warrant morality as a system. The answer, ever more plainly, is “no.”

    Also, note that both the Common Law [British-American] and Justinian’s Corpus Juris [Continental, including even the Code Napoleon, which I gather is a part- basis for law in Louisiana] traditions which underly much of Western law, are in fact deeply and inextricably rooted in the Judaeo-Christian Tradition and its biblically anchored statements of moral principles, as, say, Blackstone, notes. And, as there is an accelerating secularist movement to strip out that tradition, as it proceeds step by step, many evident absurdities emerge in the courts and on the streets, just as Jefferson and his Clients in the US Congress of 1776 warned.

    In short, Barry’s summary on living off dwindling moral capital – and BTW, on my recall of previous remarks in this blog, he is an Attorney-at-Law – is unfortunately correct.

    7] It’s not “we all know at the innermost core of our being that His law exists and we transgress it at our peril” . . .

    In fact, Barry is summarising in short the implications of the general, consensus intuition that we are morally bound, which is reflected in the fact that and the way how we quarrel: we appeal to Moral Law, which requires, in the end, Lawgiver.

    As Haidt summed up in his article in Science: People are selfish, yet morally motivated.

    What wordview best explains that?

    Why, relative to factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power?

    [It is strongly emerging that evolutionary materialism is, on incoherence, plainly not that 'best explanation”!]

    GEM of TKI

  120. kf:

    evolutionary materialism, on the merits, is [a] evidently unable to properly ground morality, and also [b] evidently self-referentially and inescapably undercuts the credibility of the minds that one needs to think even materialist thoughts. So, it is self-referentially absurd.

    Irrelevant word games.

    I am moral. I am rational.

    QED

  121. Daniel King,
    Is your morality higher or lower than it was when you were a child?

  122. DK:

    Sadly, further remarks as below are indicated:

    1] I am moral. I am rational.

    –> In fact, on much evidence: NONE of us is either wholly and consistently moral or wholly and consistently rational, so the first issue is whether on this particular topic evolutionary materialist thought is well-warranted in terms of grounding morality, i.e the infamous is-ought gap surfaces:

    However we may define the good, however well we may calculate consequences, to whatever extent we may or may not desire certain consequences, none of this of itself implies any obligation of command. That something is or will be does not imply that we ought to seek it. We can never derive an “ought” from a premised “is” unless the ought is somehow already contained in the premise . . . .

    R. M. Hare . . . raises the same point. Most theories, he argues, simply fail to account for the ought that commands us: subjectivism reduces imperatives to statements about subjective states, egoism and utilitarianism reduce them to statements about consequences, emotivism simply rejects them because they are not empirically verifiable, and determinism reduces them to causes rather than commands . . . .

    Elizabeth Anscombe’s point is well made. We have a problem introducing the ought into ethics unless, as she argues, we are morally obligated by law – not a socially imposed law, ultimately, but divine law . . . . This is precisely the problem with modern ethical theory in the West . . . it has lost the binding force of divine commandments. [Holmes, Arthur F. Ethics: Approaching Moral Decisions (Downers Grove, IL: 1984), pp. 70 – 72. ]

    -> So far, EM thought shows it self sadly wanting in this case,a s we can see above.

    –> Also, the response is on a strawman: no-one – for well over 50 posts now – is seriously arguing that evolutionary materialists by virtue of not being theists do not have moral intuitions that hye try to live up to.

    –> As to the claim to be a “moral” person, a fairer summary is that you, too, have moral intuitions just like the rest of us, but do not wholly live up to the standard you set for others or even yourself; just like the rest of us. (How do I know that? Because I know on very good grounds that we are finite, fallible, fallen and too often ill-willed. In short that holds for me too, and for all of us in this thread.)

    2] Irrelevant word games.

    This is a dismissal attempt regarding the following summary of the substance of the thread to date on the precise issue that EM thought evidently has great difficulty grounding morality, and has a problem getting to the credibility of mind itself, starting from its premises [cf 49 above etc], and the context of my remarks in 18 to DK on his comment in 108 that I agree and sympathize; naturalism undermines theism, as it did in ancient Greece and has done throughout the Western intellectual tradition, especially since the 16th century. :

    This is a diversion to an unfortunately strawmannish side-issue [and in the teeth of repeated direct statemets of the issue]. For, that the movement of naturalism has promoted an apostasising of especially the educated elites of Western culture from God over the past 200 or so years, is not in dispute. [And such is to be expected in light of say Rom 1:19 – 2:15, once men lose sight of gratitude to God and vaunt themselves in their imaginations. What classical Judaeo-Christian theism contends [cf here Ps 53 etc too], is that such is always in the end irrational, and we can subject that to the test of reason relative to evident facts.]

    Thus, the real issue to be properly addressed, as repeatedly stated, is that [a] evolutionary materialism (a descriptive term, cf. linked supra), whether in the form naturalism or otherwise, fails to ground morality relative to its premises – the notorious is-ought gap, and [b] said evolutionary materialism also self-refers and fails to ground the credibility of the mind, due to its inherent undermining. That such a condescending diversion of focus now appears at length is telling as to the balance of the case above on the merits.

    In short, far from speaking to the merits, DK again tries to dismiss the issue he is plainly unwilling to address.

    So, we are entirely right to highlight the remark that appears just before my cite from 108 and response as just excerpted: if there were a solid [evolutionary materialist] answer, it would be everywhere across the Internet, just a search and a click away.

    Sometimes, absence of evidence is a strong pointer to that fact being eloquent evidence of absence.

    GEM of TKI

  123. kf complains that nobody has addressed his argument that Philosophical Materialism aka Evolutionary Materialism aka Methodological Naturalism is self-referentially absurd. He references the writings of Alvin Plantinga. Other philosophers have rebutted Plantinga, and Plantinga has rebutted his critics. And so on. That debate will continue. Case in point: Fitelson and Sober

    Plantinga suggests that evolutionary naturalism is self-defeating, but that traditional theism is not. However, what is true is that neither position has an answer to hyperbolic doubt. Evolutionists have no way to justify the theory they believe other than by critically assessing the evidence that has been amassed and employing rules of inference that seem on reflection to be sound.If someone challenges all the observations and rules of inference that are used in science and in everyday life, demanding that they be justified from the ground up, the challenge cannot be met. A similar problem arises for theists who think that their confidence in the reliability of their own reasoning powers is shored up by the fact that the human mind was designed by a God who is no deceiver. The theist, like the evolutionary naturalist, is unable to construct a non-question-begging argument that refutes global skepticism.

  124. Daniel King,

    Does this mean that you are arguing that both theism and evolutionay biology are faith based. If you are, then welcome to the club. Nearly everyone here thinks that evolutionary biology is faith based and not much different from traditional religion.

  125. D.K. – I wonder what tactics you might use to attract us [hiding-in-the-garden materialists] to your defense.

    I hope you take KF’s words to heart:

    I think the issue is not to “attract” but to call: call to duty under intellectual integrity, and to duty before simple justice, on pain of revealing oneself to be an enabler of oppression, deceit and injustice

  126. D.K. I am moral. I am rational.

    Says who? You? Which takes us back to Nietzsche.

  127. DK:

    Final follow up for the morning, unfortunately on another shift in the topic to be addressed:

    kf complains that nobody has addressed his argument that Philosophical Materialism aka Evolutionary Materialism aka Methodological Naturalism is self-referentially absurd . . .

    1] Not so, I first asked and ask for a sound answer that grounds morality relative to EM premises, and secondly in that context have pointed out that this is part of the wider problem of failing to properly ground the credibility of mind relative to such premises

    2] On your cite from an attempt to reply to Plantinga’s paper here, I note:

    –> Observe F & S’s key claim: what is true is that neither position has an answer to hyperbolic doubt. Evolutionists have no way to justify the theory they believe other than by critically assessing the evidence that has been amassed and employing rules of inference that seem on reflection to be sound . . . The theist, like the evolutionary naturalist, is unable to construct a non-question-begging argument that refutes global skepticism.

    -> What is the basic problem with that? Well, what first happens is that such global skepticism, surprise – not!, is self-referentially absurd – in effect, implicitly claiming to know that we cannot know anything. (Skeptics then too often go on to take such up again selectively, such as in this case, and dismiss arguments they cannot otherwise address by question-begging and setting an arbitrarily high burden of proof.) So, are you willing to plead that we cannot know anything, or else that in this case – in order not to go where the argument naturally leads, you are wanting to set a burden of proof that you cannot coherently apply generally?

    –> Now also, observe what is happening here with Evolutionary materialist thinkers, who have no way to justify the theory they believe other than by critically assessing the evidence that has been amassed and employing rules of inference that seem on reflection to be sound.

    -> Notice the number of times we are seeing the gap between being reasoning agents and GROUNDING reason relative to one’s EM premises? This is why I noted as excerpted in 49, that:

    . . . if materialism is true, the “thoughts” we have and the “conclusions” we reach, without residue, are produced and controlled by forces that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or validity. Of course, the conclusions of such arguments may still happen to be true, by lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” them. And, if our materialist friends then say: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must note that to demonstrate that such tests provide empirical support to their theories requires the use of the very process of reasoning which they have discredited! . . .

    -> Plantinga is telling (and expands in loving details by a magisterial philosopher . . . well worth the read):

    I’ll briefly outline the original argument here. It begins from certain doubts about the reliability of our cognitive faculties, where, roughly,5 a cognitive faculty–memory, perception, reason–is reliable if the great bulk of its deliverances are true. These doubts are connected with the origin of our cognitive faculties . . . According to this [EM] story, it is by way of these [NDT] mechanisms, or mechanisms very much like them, that all the vast variety of contemporary organic life has developed; and it is by way of these same mechanisms that our cognitive faculties have arisen . . . . if naturalism is true, there is no God, and hence no God (or anyone else) overseeing our development and orchestrating the course of our evolution. And this leads directly to the question whether it is at all likely that our cognitive faculties, given naturalism and given their evolutionary origin, would have developed in such a way as to be reliable, to furnish us with mostly true beliefs . . . . evolution is interested (so to speak) only in adaptive behavior, not in true belief. Natural selection doesn’t care what you believe; it is interested only in how you behave. It selects for certain kinds of behavior, those that enhance fitness, which is a measure of the chances that one’s genes are widely represented in the next and subsequent generations . . . But then the fact that we have evolved guarantees at most that we behave in certain ways–ways that contribute to our (or our ancestors’) surviving and reproducing in the environment in which we have developed . . . . there are many belief-desire combinations that will lead to the adaptive action; in many of these combinations, the beliefs are false.

    –> in short, we are right back at the issue I raised in 49: relative to evolutionary materialist [but not theistic evolutionary premises, BTW] premises, we cannot ground the credibility of the mind, so the very minds used to think argue and reason to evolutionary materialism, are inextricably caught up in the problem of self-reference and self-defeat.

    –> A spider caught in its own web.

    GEM of TKI

  128. kairosfocus, what you are saying only has validity for evolutionary materialists or any other type of materialists if they accept your defined parameters of evolutionary influence as well as your theistic beliefs as grounded in reality. You said:

    whether evolutionary materialism, relative to its premises, can warrant morality as a system. The answer, ever more plainly, is “no.”

    How many evolutionary materialists claim that evolutionary materialism can warrant morality? I don’t think you will find that they claim that evolution creates a basis or ground for morality. If you want to claim that theism is superior to materialism because it directly addresses morality in a profound way whereas materialism does not, I don’t think that will matter in the least to a materialist. They don’t care that theisitic based concepts might be more moral then the law of the jungle. To them it’s just mental concoctions created by humans, not divinely inspired revelation. So regardless of the moral inequality or relativity of materialism the reality is that materialists don’t care. Whether they can justify morality from evolution or materialism doesn’t matter to them because they don’t see theistic metaphysics as having relevance due to their non belief in a transcendental reality. That’s why Daniel King replied to you: “Irrelevant word games”. What you are saying is irrelevant to them because to them your philosophy is based on fantasy, not reality.

  129. How many evolutionary materialists claim that evolutionary materialism can warrant morality? I don’t think you will find that they claim that evolution creates a basis or ground for morality.

    A good bit of the discussion has been trying to pin down what exactly they think is the source of morality.

    We have not been able to do so. It’s one of those things that make you go hmmmm.

    And it really shouldn’t be disputed by thinking people that morality must have a source.

  130. “One cannot look at this Universe with all living productions & man without believing that all has been intelligently designed; yet when I look to each individual organism, I can see no evidence of this. Charles Darwin

    It would have helped if he pulled his head out and then took a look.

    Had Charley known what the ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) Project knows he would have had a different out-look:

    ENCODE in Nature

    ENCODE changing the definition of a gene (what is a gene?)

    BBC on ENCODE

    Washington Post weighs in

  131. One does not have to believe in God to believe that love, compassion, and respect are central to the human condition, and that exercising those qualities resonates the best with the truth about what human beings are.-Jack Krebs

    Would love, compassion and respect even exist without “God”?

    Compassion seems to go against natural selection.

    Love just gets in the way.

    And respect must be earned.

  132. jerry #124:

    Does this mean that you are arguing that both theism and evolutionay biology are faith based.

    No.

  133. kf #119:

    we appeal to Moral Law, which requires, in the end, Lawgiver.

    Not at all. Note the equivocation on the term “law.”

  134. kf #122:

    if there were a solid [evolutionary materialist] answer, it would be everywhere across the Internet, just a search and a click away.

    kf has assumed something that is incorrect and easily refuted.
    Try entering the following search terms in Google:
    Plantinga
    presuppositionalism
    Plantinga presuppositionalism
    (Note also the question-begging use of the word “solid.” If does not support kf, it is not “solid.”)

  135. Why can’t love exist without God?

  136. Jack Do You think love just magically generated from a material basis?

  137. Why can’t love exist without God?

    What is the material basis of love, AND if it is some device merely to perpetuate the species why, according to evolutionary materialism, cannot it not be trumped by some stronger mechanism?

    Something else for you to ponder, Jack — evil can’t exist without God, for God is the one who defines evil.

    Look at nature. A alpha female can kill the children of a beta female in a pack and who is anyone to judge? She’s just giving her pups a better chance.

  138. I don’t believe in the magical generation of anything.

    I ask the question because I’m trying to understand the reasoning of anti-materialists.

    I understand, I think, that most anti-materialists believe that materialists have no grounds (other than pragmatic) for morality, because the belief is that without a lawgiver, there can be no law. That is the topic that I had a few things to say about earlier in this thread.

    But I don’t understand how that reasoning would apply to love. Love is an emotion that we feel towards other people, usually the strongest towards people close to us, although in some people in can be generalized, at least in the abstract, to all people and even the universe as a whole. I don’t see how having emotions is dependent on the existence of God – this seems different than the morality issue.

  139. I ask the question because I’m trying to understand the reasoning of anti-materialists.

    That’s a strange way of describing us since I don’t think any of us here are anti-material. Most of us do have objections, however, to the claim that morality is, or can be, based solely on what is measurable.

    I don’t see how having emotions is dependent on the existence of God

    I guess it depends to what you claim to be the source of those emotions — a mere chemical reaction designed to perpetuate the species or sanctifying bonding with another’s soul leading to a realization that there is a purpose far greater to our existance than acquiring bits of matter.

  140. First morality is in the eye of the beholder.

    What is “moral” in one society isn’t “moral” in another.

    As for “love” do other organisms experience it or is it entirely a human thing? I know there are other species that mate for life but is that because of “love”?

    Do we need it to survive? No.

    Do we need it to hunt or gather food? No.

    Do we even need it to find a mate? No.

    Do we need it to successfully mate? No.

    Compassion can get one killed. Help the weak so that the gene pool is muudied by their genes goes against the heart of the theory of evolution.

    Sorry JK but the materialist position can only explain love, compassion and morality with a hand-wave and a wink.

  141. Jack you say that you “don’t see how having emotions is dependent on the existence of God”, and that is perfectly understandable if you don’t know how God is relevant to our reality. It’s like my cats not understanding how their meals are dependent on the pet food corporation which makes their meals. They only know that I feed them, they have no conception of the importance of the pet food corporation in sustaining them. Likewise people who either are atheists, agnostics, or even theists without a real understanding of how God works, do not understand the extent of that which sustains them (God) because they do not see God directly sustaining them or they don’t understand how it could possilby be true.

    So yes, you do need God to have emotions or love because everything is dependent on God. We can examine this a bit closer if we want and look at how the mind works.

    The mind and emotions work together. What is the mind? What substance are thoughts comprised of? How do we understand thoughts? How do we receive memory which is thought? Can thought be stored in cells? If so how and where? Can cells read your mind and understand language, grammar, word meanings, etc? If not where does memory come from? How does the mind and therefore emotion function if the mind is solely dependent on the interactions of chemicals in cells? Can cells really understand what you are thinking and give you information that you want in a language?

    If I ask you where you were last night how does that memory become available to your mind? If that memory is stored in cells in your brain are you telling me that those cells understand and can communicate with me so that if I ask you a question they can supply the answer?

    Well if they can’t then where does memory come from? Without memory we would be like new born babies at all times. In order for us to be able to be intelligent and function as we do we need a very sophisticated memory management system. Yet our memory is based upon thought and communication which cells are unable to do because they do not possess the required means which would enable them to talk to us and understand our thoughts and our language. Can cells in your brain communicate through thought and are they able to understand language, grammar, vocabulary etc.

    Of course not.

    So how do we exist the way we do with memory and mind and thought all working together to form an intelligent person?

    That is understood when you understand how our minds are part of a larger (universally) all pervading field of consciousness/mind who enables us with our memory and the ability to function as intelligent persons. That is why we need God to have emotion or love. Our minds cannot function without being a part of God’s mind and without God supplying us with memory through our mind connection.

  142. All

    The onward exchanges since yesterday, sadly but aptly, underscore that evolutionary materialist thought simply cannot ground morality relative to its premises — other than reverting to some version of relativism/ subjectivism or might makes right, etc. which simply underscore that tit cannot account for ought based on is — as a part of the larger problem it faces grounding the credible mind we need to think rationally at all. Remember, the issue is not whether materialists can think or have and try to live by moral intuitions, it is that here is a deep problem grounding these in their worldview – i.e. there is a question of logical and broader intellectual coherence; part of why there is such an intensity in their responses above.

    So, we can ask, relative to the premises of EM:

    [i] In light of say the issued Plantinga raised [hurled elephants and lit bluffs etc notwithstanding] why should we trust he deliverances of Darwin’s overgrown monkey-mind?

    [i] Why should we see ourselves as actually bound by moral principle, beyond emotions, conventions of the community or prudence int eh face of power?

    [iii] Is such a person reasonable and principled in any serious sense?

    Now, on a few points:

    1] Love must come first

    Love is not merely an emotion.

    She is the queen of the virtues, and at core, a commitment to value and to cherish and care for the other, doing the other good, not harm. (Indeed, the tendency to think of love in terms of feelings only may help explain skyrocketing divorce rates and disintegration of families all across the West, and a lot else, none of it good.)

    That is why Locke could cite Hooker et al on the Golden Rule, i.e neighbour love, as the foundation of mutual respect and natural justice and good neighbourliness in the community. But of course, as also excerpted, all of that is in light of Locke’s largely Biblically shaped Creation-centred worldview. And, now that many in the elites of the West have turned their backs on the roots of our vaunted liberty in God and in the endowments, responsibilities and charges he gave us, is it any wonder that we see a falling apart of the foundation and praxis of virtue? [Cf here, Rom 1 – 2.]

    2] Mentok, 128: How many evolutionary materialists claim that evolutionary materialism can warrant morality? I don’t think you will find that they claim that evolution creates a basis or ground for morality.

    But if materialistic evolution is to explain “all” – one of the challenges/ objectives of a worldview, then it must address morality and mind, grounding it relative to its premises. In short, here we see a question of inadequate explanatory scope relative to vital facts, and because of the self-references entailed in the centrality of mind and of intellectual virtues in reason and knowledge, also a question of deep, self-defeating incoherence. Thus, on the evidence, evolutionary materialism, with its monistic reductionism [all is “matter” and its properties and behaviour] is evidently seriously wanting in explanatory power as well.

    In short, it is being seriously challenged to surmount the three comparative difficulties bars in the worldviews hurdle race. We should be aware of that, and should take it under serious consideration when going worldview shopping.

    3] So regardless of the moral inequality or relativity of materialism the reality is that materialists don’t care. Whether they can justify morality from evolution or materialism doesn’t matter to them because they don’t see theistic metaphysics as having relevance due to their non belief in a transcendental reality.

    We care [for all too telling reasons on the track record of the past century], and we should know that – especially before putting power [which, as the early reformation thinkers on liberation pointed out from Duplessis-Mornay on, is original with the people as a body and is only entrusted into the hands of officials, under terms of covenant] into the hands of people who think, view and value like that – given, e.g., what we just saw on neighbour-love.

    4] DK, 132: No [Replying to Jerry's: Does this mean that you are arguing that both theism and evolutionay biology are faith based. ]

    H’mm. Let’s briefly sum up. A claim A is made. Why accept it? Generally, because of B, a further claim relative to evidence and reasoning. Why B? Well, C. And so on. We thus face an infinite regress, impossible for the finite and fallible. In praxis, we reach a faith-point of first plausibles F. To avoid circularity, such should be open to comparative difficulties analysis across live options. And that brings us back to the issues at stake.

    But, we now see that all men live and think by faith, explicitly or implicitly, the question is: which one, and why?

    . . .

  143. 5] DK, 133: Note the equivocation on the term “law.”

    There is no equivocation. I am speaking here to laws of our nature, as in how the likes of Locke, Hooker, Blackstone , the Dutch founders of 1581 and the American ones of 1776 etc used that term. (Contrast, here, the attempted Nazi defence at Nuremberg, that cultural relativism prevails so their actions were lawful and just under their legitimate Government.)

    You will note that from how we quarrel, we expect and observe and generally accept that we are bound by key moral principles [and BTW, there is a pretty general consensus on the heart of these principles, e.g. fairness and harmlessness, the usual issues in a quarrel]. What accounts for that, on inference to best explanation, other than a Lawgiver — Might makes right? Intensity of emotions? Chance plus necessity as mediated through accidents of biology and culture? Socio-cultural conditioning generally? Neurons firing off in our CNS [cf here Crick!]? Or the like?

    6] DK, 134: kf has assumed something that is incorrect and easily refuted. Try entering the following search terms in Google . . .

    You will see, onlookers, that I asked for a SOLID EM answer. As the case of Sober and Fitelson, the former a president of the American Philosphical Association [as has been Plantinga] at 123, responded to in 127 shows, SOUNDNESS in the attempted answers is precisely what is missing in action. Recall, they resorted to a self-refuting argument, then assumed what was to be shown. Materialists, being made in the image of the God they reject, have moral intuitions and can think logically, at least some of the time. But the problem is to explain that relative to their premises.

    7] JK, 135: Why can’t love exist without God? Trib, 137: What is the material basis of love, AND if it is some device merely to perpetuate the species why, according to evolutionary materialism, cannot it not be trumped by some stronger mechanism? JK, 138: Love is an emotion that we feel towards other people

    Trib has raised a key issue here – how do you ground and show love to be of any consequence, on EM premises?

    Also, as noted at 1, love is far more than an emotion! [It is precisely that offhand, assumed “obvious” reduction of a lynchpin virtue and moral mandate to an emotion that is ever so telling about the want of proper grounding of evolutionary materialist thought on morality.]

    BTW, JK, welcome home from your vac.

    8] JK, 138: I understand, I think, that most anti-materialists believe that materialists have no grounds (other than pragmatic) for morality, because the belief is that without a lawgiver, there can be no law. That is the topic that I had a few things to say about earlier in this thread . . .

    Of course, to see what is going on, go through the chain from quarrelling to the issues at stake, fairness and doing no harm, onward to the question: why is it generally and intuitively accepted as a binding obligation – moral principle — to be fair and harmless? What worldview best explains that?

    And, how do materialists attempt to GROUND – logically and epistemologically warrant – morality relative to their premises? On the evidence, do they succeed on a comparative difficulties basis?

    Educated theists, and even a great many thoughtful materialists, have had to conclude that EM has a major and unmet problem grounding morality within its system of thought; indeed, there is a serious question that the system of thought is fundamentally and inescapably incoherent. (It’s not just a mater of “antimaterialism.”)

    9] Trib, 139: it depends to what you claim to be the source of those emotions [in context, of “love”] — a mere chemical reaction designed to perpetuate the species or sanctifying bonding with another’s soul leading to a realization that there is a purpose far greater to our existance than acquiring bits of matter.

    Thus lieth nakedly revealed the sere impoverishment of materialism as a worldview.

    10] Joseph, 140: What is “moral” in one society isn’t “moral” in another.

    This comes to the issue of reformation vs relativism and associated pragmatism etc. Societies do have divergent perceptions of morality, and reformers see that something is wrong and challenge the “consensus.”

    Now, how is the decision to be made? Power/ might makes “right”?

    Or, do we not recognise a higher law that often calls for sacrifice even martyrdom in witness to the right? Thence, a Giver, behind that law . . . ?

    And, that extends to the international arena pretty directly – for sometimes, just force (not mere talk) is required to stop vicious and ambitious aggressors of the ilk of an Adolf Schicklegruber.

    Okay, let me stop here, now. See you all in about a week or so.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Here is my own reflection on morality and ethics, in the context of a course I taught a few years back. I think it may prove helpful in onward reflections on the topic, including the part on sustainability of development, which is an application of the ethics of the Kantian CI, in turn an expression of the principle in the Golden Rule. (Never mind the Watermelon thinking – green outside, a significantly different colour inside — that too often subverts the point . . .)

  144. PPS: I see I have been accused of circularity above, on the dismissal attempt that by a “solid” argument I simply mean one that agrees with me.

    This is of course a strawman [just look at the links I have provided on method, much less the summary notes above] and an unjust, even disrespectful, ad hominem [think of what it would mean to try to define soundness by agreement with oneself, being both finite and fallible!] argument. It works to cloud the atmosphere of discussion, and to distract from the focal issue that EM plainly and on serious evidence has at least possibly insuperable problems grounding morality and the credibility of mind more generally.

    So, let us note, linking again an already linked discussion of the toolkit used for such work: a “solid” argument is one that warrants its conclusions, by logically valid deduction from reasonable premises, and/or that adequately supports its inductions relative to good evidence, and/or provides a best abductive explanation.

    Second, we can put this point to work quickly, by a further illustration of the problem that the F & S atempted rebuttal to Plantinga already manifests. To do so, I did a yahoo search on one of DK’s terms, and soon came up with a link at strongatheism.net, to an article “Cutting Off One’s Head: The Theological Attack Against Cognition.” I will now comment on a few points in the article, by way of further illustration:

    –> The very title contemptuously and arrogantly misrepresents and disrespects Plantinga, whose major work as a philosopher includes a massive three-volume work on epistemology, on Warrant; and it goes sadly downhill sharply from there; never mind the picture and cite from Lord Russell. First, the opening point of presuppositional reasoning is that we have worldviews with cores or foundations that are first plausibles [as I discussed in part] already.

    –> Contrast Tremblay’s loaded opening definition: presuppositionalism—the idea that human understanding could not come to exist or be justified without a god [oh how tellingly they resent the effort of a capital letter here, as Solzhenitsyn aptly pointed out] . . . Naturalism poses a problem for theologians because they cannot understand its emergentist consequences, being caught in the mindset of personal causation First problem, Plantinga, presumably the main person being addressed, is a distinguished PHILOSOPHER.

    -> Second, the question of emergence is begged [CONSEQUENCES demands antecedents and valid chains of logical deduction, of which we find nowhere the faintest trace; we see here a classic non-sequitur] while dismissing as too intellectually closed-minded to understand, those who challenge moving from the known properties and patterns of behaviour of matter to the radically different ones of mind and morals. [This I already summarised in brief above; e.g. at a basic level, neuronal potentials and firing rates are not true or false, right or wrong. Neurons are located at particular points, truth and falsity or right and wrong are not, and much more.]

    –> This is a rich example of turnabout rhetoric: here, accusing the other –- again using a pejorative term in this context — of begging the question then proceeding to beg the question spectacularly: “theologians [Look, 1984 has been around since 1948, we know all about doublespeak] usually simply assume that matter, being impersonal, cannot give rise to personality, but this reasoning commits the fallacy of composition. Since human minds are complex systems, we have to affirm that the mind and its entities are emergent properties of groups of atoms, not simply atoms banging around randomly.”

    –> In fact the whole may be distinct from its parts, but in this case if the “parts” are mater-energy and its characteristic interactions, in a matrix of chance + necessity, one properly expects material interactions not emergence of radically different properties, in the sort of strong sense being jumped to. So, the claim that radical emergence has happened is a big one, and needs detailed warrant. Of this we find nowhere the faintest trace, only repetition of an assertion made from the outset.

    –> This unmet challenge to provide detailed accounts relative to material entities and known laws of interaction under chance + necessity starts at he level of the fine tuned cosmos, proceeds to the functionally specified complex information required to originate life, and to produce body-plan level diversity, and includes accounting for mind and morals as a part of mind. Of such a properly worked out description we see nowhere the faintest trace, only blind faith-assertions. In short, Tremblay richly earns the title: A-theologian! [For details on these issues, cf. My always linked.]

    –> The article goes downhill as it gets to the focus of our interest. Observe first the repeated loaded accusation without warrant, as highlighted:

    Some theologians [read here, Plantinga as philosopher] also try to undermine the basis for rational thought by using evolution. Cognition, they would claim, is unreliable because evolution does not ensure truth-based processes in the human mind. Therefore we must believe in God, who has an interest in maintaining truth-based processes in our minds, because it wants us to apprehend nature. But this is a mistake that, in the title of this article, I call “cutting off one’s head”. By undermining cognition itself, the theist also undermines the basis for theistic belief. If we cannot trust the human mind, then we cannot trust the theist’s apprehension of theistic truths, from the Bible or otherwise . . .

    –> In fact, P. has challenged EM thinkers to provide warrant for their assumption/ assertion that relative to evolutionary mechanisms the emergence of mind is not a problem. That is a reasonable challenge, and he raises the important point that if RM + NS etc reward reproduction-enhancing BEHAVIOUR, belief is plainly transparent to behaviour, and that leads to a situation where it is very possible for successful behaviour to follow from plainly incorrect and unreliable thought and belief — or even from the absence of such thought and belief. But on the other hand if our origin is under the guidance of an intelligent agent, then it is reasonable to see that such an agent in making creatures with minds would make the minds fit for function in their environment, including accuracy of perception, thought and belief-forming mechanisms. In short Agency is a better explanation for mind, much less morals.

    –> the same pattern continues, e.g as T takes on instinct: “Instinct is primary, since it predates rationality. Our rationality is in some ways informed by instincts, such as our instincts of logical thought, and can be hindered by instincts, such as the desire for belief. But the opposite interaction is mostly irrelevant in this context.” (Excuse me, whence cometh such an “instinct” for logical thought? Or, is “instinct” here not simply another bit of word-magic, covering up: we don’t know but must believe something, so let us assume and confidently assert: IT’S AN INSTINCT, STUPID. Oops . . .)
    _________

    We could go on, but the point is plainly made on what a solid answer should look like and why this is yet another case of how evolutionary materialists fail at the bars of comparative difficulties: explanatory scope, coherence and power.

    Okay, I really gotta go.

  145. Jack Krebs has said

    “I don’t believe in the magical generation of anything.”

    I think that nearly all that support ID agree with you here which is at the heart of ID. All these complex systems couldn’t have just magically happened but must have been guided by an intelligence which we don’t believe is magic.

    It is evolutionary biologists who believe in magic because they constantly assume that magically, many things just happened in the past which defy logic. Despite knowing how the universe works they continually invoke unknown processes as “if they were magic”.

    Also when Daniel King says that both evolutionary biology and theism are not faith based then he must be assuming that theism is not faith based because evolutionary biology based on Darwinian ideas certainly is faith based. To say that Theism is not faith based is an unusual admission.

  146. thought simply cannot ground morality relative to its premises — other than reverting to some version of relativism/ subjectivism or might makes right, etc.

    And don’t forget leeching to Judeo-Christianity by declaring that the value system it mandates is but the mere result of evolution.

  147. Jack and Daniel,
    I just watched Darwin’s ly Legacy on TV. It was very enlightening. The foundational justification of ‘s genocide against Jews was to “purify the German of inferior genes”. At the meeting planning the “final solution of the Jewish problem” one of the architects of the plan said “Darwin would be astounded at what we are going to accomplish in just one year”
    You claim a moral foundation in materialism, Yet if materialism is strictly adhered to it produces moral blindness. Whereas for a theist to justify such a morally reprehensible position as genocide he would have to somehow ignore and cloud over the Judeo-Christian foundation of Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
    You can tell the truth of your claims of morality for materialism by the fruit it has produced in civilization!

  148. Jack — Why can’t love exist without God?

    Something else for you to ponder:

    If you believe in God and you accept the reality of love, the equation balances nicely.

    Now, if you don’t believe in God but accept the reality of love you may consider it a some mystery yet life’s highest virtue, whcih means you may be on your way to finding God. Or it may mean the source of love will always remain a mystery.

    OR, it may mean you eventually conclude it is just a temporary state and a mere chemical reaction, which would mean you will justify cheating on your wife, ignoring her, ignoring the kids, being dishonest with your employees and customers or students, and generally looking out for Number 1.

    Which means so much for love, and that, yes, it can’t exist without God, or at least the recognition that there is something beyond the material.

  149. Morality is a very simple concept. It is adherence to a standard. Now one can choose all sorts of standards and nearly every society in history has chosen a standard which is generally accepted by all in the society. We happen to exist in a society whose culture has and is changing very rapidly so the traditional standard is in shreds and most do not know what to replace it with. Many here do not think any good new standard will arise out of the ashes of what many in this society are trying to burn down.

    A materialist can choose amongst a smorgasbord of standards and do what ever seems at the moment to be attractive. But there is no compulsion for the materialist to adhere to any standard completely because they are by definition arbitrary and they can modify it as they like or even change standards.

    This modification of standards even applies to religious people as well as there is always a flourishing of new religious ideas with different standards of behavior. Religious standards are different from other standards since they are supposedly imposed from without and therefore not theoretically individually modified. But as we know, individual’s interpretations of these standards which are imposed from without is quite variable. Consequently, we get what might be called the “Religion of the Month Club.”

    One of the problems with the materialists point of view is what is passed on to the next generation. It has always been the responsibility of parents of one generation to ensure that their children have received the standards by which to lead their life so they too can pass them on. But I am afraid that this essential human activity is now in chaos as many many children have not received or know how to pass anything along.

  150. mentok #128:

    How many evolutionary materialists claim that evolutionary materialism can warrant morality? I don’t think you will find that they claim that evolution creates a basis or ground for morality. If you want to claim that theism is superior to materialism because it directly addresses morality in a profound way whereas materialism does not, I don’t think that will matter in the least to a materialist. They don’t care that theisitic based concepts might be more moral then the law of the jungle. To them it’s just mental concoctions created by humans, not divinely inspired revelation. So regardless of the moral inequality or relativity of materialism the reality is that materialists don’t care. Whether they can justify morality from evolution or materialism doesn’t matter to them because they don’t see theistic metaphysics as having relevance due to their non belief in a transcendental reality. That’s why Daniel King replied to you: “Irrelevant word games”. What you are saying is irrelevant to them because to them your philosophy is based on fantasy, not reality.

    An insightful and eloquent comment, mentok. Having been a materialist, you know the terrain.

  151. kf # 143:

    6] DK, 134: kf has assumed something that is incorrect and easily refuted. Try entering the following search terms in Google . . .
    You will see, onlookers, that I asked for a SOLID EM answer. As the case of Sober and Fitelson, the former a president of the American Philosphical Association [as has been Plantinga] at 123, responded to in 127 shows, SOUNDNESS in the attempted answers is precisely what is missing in action. Recall, they resorted to a self-refuting argument, then assumed what was to be shown. Materialists, being made in the image of the God they reject, have moral intuitions and can think logically, at least some of the time. But the problem is to explain that relative to their premises.

    kf #144:

    PPS: I see I have been accused of circularity above, on the dismissal attempt that by a “solid” argument I simply mean one that agrees with me.
    This is of course a strawman [just look at the links I have provided on method, much less the summary notes above] and an unjust, even disrespectful, ad hominem [think of what it would mean to try to define soundness by agreement with oneself, being both finite and fallible!] argument.

    No disrespect intended. Just a prediction based on observation.
    I should have said, a solid argument to kf is one that he agrees with, but he has demonstrated the truth of my assertion well enough.

    Further:

    I did a yahoo search on one of DK’s terms, and soon came up with a link at strongatheism.net, to an article…

    Remember that kf’s claim in #118 was:

    …if there were a solid answer, it would be everywhere across the Internet, just a search and a click away.

    My searches on Google gave the following numbers of hits:
    Plantinga: 464,000
    Plantinga presuppositionalism: 9,690
    presuppositionalism: 43,400
    If only a fraction of these hits are to rebuttals, kf’s claim is refuted. Note that kf did not acknowledge this refutation.
    Other searches, on specific “materialist’ Web sites, such as IIDB, and on theism-friendly sites, such as thesciphishow, also contain rebuttals.
    None of these rebuttals can possibly be “solid,” according to kf. He presumably knows that without reading them.

  152. Back to the pragmatic defense of morality and rationality:

    kf #122:

    no-one – for well over 50 posts now – is seriously arguing that evolutionary materialists by virtue of not being theists do not have moral intuitions that hye try to live up to.
    –> As to the claim to be a “moral” person, a fairer summary is that you, too, have moral intuitions just like the rest of us, but do not wholly live up to the standard you set for others or even yourself; just like the rest of us. (How do I know that? Because I know on very good grounds that we are finite, fallible, fallen and too often ill-willed. In short that holds for me too, and for all of us in this thread.)

    I am grateful to kf for emphasizing that he does not believe that materialists are less moral than theists.

    (He does not say the same about rationality. I take his silence as tacit admission that he is not accusing materialists of being less rational than theists. Indeed, if they are less rational, a fair-minded judge would be lenient about punishing them for the imputed incoherence of their beliefs. “Give us a break, Your Honor, we’re doing the best we can with what we’ve got.”)
    So, if materialists as a class are as moral and rational as theists, then theists as a class need not have a global fear of persecution from materialists any more than materialists need have a global fear of persecution from theists. It depends: some people on either side are more militant than others, and all arguments to the contrary are fallacious.

  153. “he does not believe that materialists are less moral than theists”

    I am not so sure I agree with this claim that materialists are as moral as theists. While you can claim that some materialist lead exemplary lives and there are many theists who have caused much harm to society I am not sure they balance out as two on a see saw.

    I could point to events, struggles, policies since the beginning of the 20th century that have caused hundreds of millions to die and I am not sure theists are behind many if any of them. For example:

    Abortion – 100 million plus
    AIDS – 30-50 million and climbing
    Malaria – 30-60 million and still climbing as a result of banning DDT.
    World War I and II – 60-90 million
    Communism – 100 million

    You can definitely point to non-theist support in all these whether you want to call it materialistic is another issue, however I believe non theistic thinking is behind most of these. When people point to religious excess or wars, things like the Inquisition, 30 Years War, Crusades etc come up. Hey folks, the most recent of these is 400 years ago and even these were mostly political or in the case of the Crusades, self defense.

  154. God willing, I intend to post tomorrow a solid rebuttal of kf’s argument that “materialism is based on self-defeating logic.”

    I will show that his argument is fatally flawed by an unproven, unprovable, and disproven assumption.

    With the demise of his argument, there is no onus on materialists to provide any answer pertaining thereto.

    In the meantime, I thank the management for its hospitality and this thread’s participants for their thoughtful and courteous contributions to a debate that I have enjoyed.

  155. kf #144:

    We could go on, but the point is plainly made on what a solid answer should look like and why this is yet another case of how evolutionary materialists fail at the bars of comparative difficulties: explanatory scope, coherence and power.
    Okay, I really gotta go.

    Oops, I missed this (buried in the underbrush). I’ll go ahead and post my devastating critique anyway, just for the record, and when kf returns from his well-deserved vacation, he can respond, if he wishes, and if this thread has not expired from old age and neglect.

  156. , I thank the management for its hospitality and this thread’s participants for their thoughtful and courteous contributions to a debate that I have enjoyed.

    And I thank you for participating Daniel.

    Even though it’s a bit late to say this, at this point in the discussion (post #156) I officially give my blessing to let the conversation go wherever the participants decide.

    I think we’ve exhausted the original topic and BarryA has started revisiting it in another thread already.

    So have at it gentleman! Talk about whatever is on your mind (within civil limits of course).

  157. Thanks, Mr Cordova. It was kind of you to write that.

  158. I now proceed to analyze kf’s argument.

    kf #144:

    a “solid” argument is one that warrants its conclusions, by logically valid deduction from reasonable premises, and/or that adequately supports its inductions relative to good evidence, and/or provides a best abductive explanation.

    Well said and agreed to. I will show that kf’s argument fails on its premises.
    kf #49:

    I. materialism . . . argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature. Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of chance.

    II. But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. Thus, what we subjectively experience as “thoughts” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as unintended by-products of the natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains. (These forces are viewed as ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance and psycho-social conditioning, within the framework of human culture.)

    III. Therefore, if materialism is true, the “thoughts” we have and the “conclusions” we reach, without residue, are produced and controlled by forces that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or validity. Of course, the conclusions of such arguments may still happen to be true, by lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” them. And, if our materialist friends then say: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must note that to demonstrate that such tests provide empirical support to their theories requires the use of the very process of reasoning which they have discredited!
    IV. Thus, evolutionary materialism reduces reason itself to the status of illusion.

    In the above quote, which I believe contains the thrust of kf’s argument, I have numbered the paragraphs for clearer reference.

    Paragraph I provides a premise that I will simplify to the following:

    I. Materialists believe that everything is physical (material).

    Paragraph II embodies another premise, bolded in the original for emphasis, that I take to be the crucial claim (restated for clarity):

    II. But mind cannot be reduced to the physical.

    (The rest of paragraph II focuses on mind, stating that materialists believe the mind to be physical. So it is logically included in premise I.)

    III. Conclusion: Therefore, materialists deny that they have grounds for believing they have minds.

    ( The first sentence of paragraph IV simply emphasizes the conclusion.)

    I think this is a fair representation of kf’s argument, but to make it clearer, I will reorder it, with premise II, which I consider to be the major premise, on top:

    I. Mind cannot be reduced to the physical.

    II. Materialists believe that everything is physical.

    III. Therefore, materialists deny that they have grounds for believing they have minds.

    In a nutshell: Materialists can’t account for minds, because minds are not physical (material).

    I argue that premise I is unfounded. A premise is either an a priori truth or a hypothesis. Since a priori truths are true by definition, they are tautologies. Since I do not believe that kf is arguing that premise I is true by definition, it must be a hypothesis.

    However, hypotheses are statements about the world of experience that must be tested for truth. As such, they require evidence and they can never be proven with certainty.

    Evidence against premise I: There is much empirical evidence against premise I in the medical literature, and an easy test for the person who doubts the physical basis of his mind is to try to do arithmetic when he is unconscious.

    Unproven nature of premise I: If there is empirical evidence for an entity (mind) that exists independently of the brain, it must be presented.

    Unprovable nature of premise I: Since the premise is a hypothesis, it can never be absolutely proven. If its proponent accepts this limitation and then says, “Premise I is probably true,” then the conclusion (III above) is also a hypothetical and its truth is not logically binding.

    In summary, kf’s premise that mind cannot be reduced to the physical is fatally flawed, and therefore so is his argument. I have already argued in this thread that any claim of intellectual or moral incoherence on the part of materialists has no practical consequences (the pragmatic test) and now I have disposed of the logical basis of that claim.

    A final note: Premise II is also flawed, because it imputes to “materialists” globally a belief that some (philosophical) materialists may hold, but this is not true of methodological materialists. The latter do not categorically deny the possibility of a non-material mind; they simply await evidence that such an entity or substance exists.

  159. Heya Daniel,

    I don’t want to speak for KF, but your points I – III don’t look to me like they are anywhere close to KF’s points I – IV. I think you may be tilting at a strawman.

    If you read past the part that you bolded in KF’s point II, it is easy to see that KF is not saying:

    II. Mind cannot be reduced to the physical.

    but something more like:

    II. Materialists must explain thought only in terms of the physical.

    So, the entire argument would be closer to this:


    I. Materialists believe that everything is physical.

    II. That means materialists must explain thought only in terms of the physical.

    III. The physical explanation for the origin of thought relies heavily on chance plus necessity.

    IV. There is no warrant for believing that chance plus necessity will result in accurate thinking patterns that lead to truth.

    V. Materialistic beliefs about thought are self-referentially incoherent since following them to their logical conclusion brings into question the reliability of thought itself.

  160. Phinehas #159:
    Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

    …KF is not saying:
    II. Mind cannot be reduced to the physical.
    but something more like:
    II. Materialists must explain thought only in terms of the physical.

    Both of these formulations look logically equivalent to me. The essential point is whether there is a substance, which we call “thought,” that exists independently of the brain. Methodological materialists (scientists) haven’t found such a substance yet, as far as I know, but none would deny the possibility that it might be found, and I personally would appreciate learning of any such discovery.
    The jujitsu being applied in your formulation of II puts the burden of explanation on scientists. A burden they have actively undertaken to carry. To deny that there are naturalistic explanations for mental activity is to deny that there are libraries full of data and analysis in neuroscience and psychology. Attempts to paint this mountain of scholarship as blind reliance on “chance and necessity” look to me like a reductionist caricature, deserving of the designation “strawman.” This is why I dissected it away in my analysis.

  161. Daniel King –

    II. Materialists must explain thought only in terms of the physical . . .To deny that there are naturalistic explanations for mental activity is to deny that there are libraries full of data and analysis in neuroscience and psychology.

    You are not refuting KF, but conceding his point.

    The essential point is whether there is a substance, which we call “thought,” that exists independently of the brain. Methodological materialists (scientists) haven’t found such a substance yet, as far as I know, but none would deny the possibility that it might be found,

    IOW, you have faith than something unseen will be revealed in the way in which you expect it too be.

    Faith is not materialism.

  162. HI DK,

    Thank you for your continued cordial attitude as we look at this issue together.

    DK: Both of these formulations look logically equivalent to me.

    Not at all. One is an assertion and the other is a logical conclusion based on the materialist’s position. You chose to misrepresent KF’s statement of a logical conclusion as a bare assertion so that you could then claim it was a bare assertion. One wonders if you chose this route because you found it much easier than actually addressing KF’s logical argument.

    The essential point is whether there is a substance, which we call “thought,” that exists independently of the brain.

    Nope. That is what is at issue, but it is not at all the point. The point that KF made and that I reiterated is part of a logical argument relating to what is at issue, not a bare assertion of what is at issue. I’ve outlined that logical argument above, but you’ve chosen to be dismissive instead of addressing the argument on points.

    The jujitsu being applied in your formulation of II puts the burden of explanation on scientists.

    Jujitsu? My formulation? Please help me understand what you mean by this. If the logical conclusion of the materialist’s position — namely that thought must have its origin in purely physical processes — is to be characterized as jujitsu or my very own formulation, please first demonstrate why it is other than a logical conclusion. Again, one wonders whether it might be easier to label it jujitsu and claim it is my formulation than to actually address it. If you cannot demonstrate that point II is not a logical conclusion of point I, then point III comes into view, does it not?

    A burden they have actively undertaken to carry. To deny that there are naturalistic explanations for mental activity is to deny that there are libraries full of data and analysis in neuroscience and psychology. Attempts to paint this mountain of scholarship as blind reliance on “chance and necessity” look to me like a reductionist caricature, deserving of the designation “strawman.”

    If this is so, then I stand corrected. But I am not aware that there is a mountain of scholarship within evolutionary materialism that accounts for thought apart from blind reliance on chance and necessity. Exactly what does this mountain of scholarship rely on if not RM + NS? How does evomat account for the origin of thought? If by other than RM + NS, then please enlighten. If not, then point III holds, and point IV comes into view. Did you want to make an attempt at point IV?

    This is why I dissected it away in my analysis.

    I don’t know. It may appear to some that you “dissected it away” because you don’t want to address the logical argument.

  163. Hmmm…last post didn’t show up. Trying again. Please forgive if it is a double post.

    ************************************

    Hi DK,

    Thank you for your continued cordial attitude as we look at this issue together.

    DK: Both of these formulations look logically equivalent to me.

    Not at all. One is an assertion and the other is a logical conclusion based on the materialist’s position. You chose to misrepresent KF’s statement of a logical conclusion as a bare assertion so that you could then claim it was a bare assertion. One wonders if you chose this route because you found it much easier than actually addressing KF’s logical argument.

    The essential point is whether there is a substance, which we call “thought,” that exists independently of the brain.

    Nope. That is what is at issue, but it is not at all the point. The point that KF made and that I reiterated is part of a logical argument relating to what is at issue, not a bare assertion of what is at issue. I’ve outlined that logical argument above, but you’ve chosen to be dismissive instead of addressing the argument on points.

    The jujitsu being applied in your formulation of II puts the burden of explanation on scientists.

    Jujitsu? My formulation? Please help me understand what you mean by this. If the logical conclusion of the materialist’s position — namely that thought must have its origin in purely physical processes — is to be characterized as jujitsu or my very own formulation, please first demonstrate why it is other than a logical conclusion. Again, one wonders whether it might be easier to label it jujitsu and claim it is my formulation than to actually address it. If you cannot demonstrate that point II is not a logical conclusion of point I, then point III comes into view, does it not?

    A burden they have actively undertaken to carry. To deny that there are naturalistic explanations for mental activity is to deny that there are libraries full of data and analysis in neuroscience and psychology. Attempts to paint this mountain of scholarship as blind reliance on “chance and necessity” look to me like a reductionist caricature, deserving of the designation “strawman.”

    If this is so, then I stand corrected. But I am not aware that there is a mountain of scholarship within evolutionary materialism that accounts for thought apart from blind reliance on chance and necessity. Exactly what does this mountain of scholarship rely on if not RM + NS? How does evomat account for the origin of thought? If by other than RM + NS, then please enlighten. If not, then point III holds, and point IV comes into view. Did you want to make an attempt at point IV?

    This is why I dissected it away in my analysis.

    I don’t know. It may appear to some that you “dissected it away” because you don’t want to address the logical argument.

  164. I tried posting a comment twice to this thread, but it isn’t showing up. I didn’t include any links, so I’m not sure what is catching it.

  165. Phineas,

    Sorry for the inconvenience.

    Askimet sometimes catches things, and we have no idea why.

    It might be wise to save your stuff to your computer before posting it just to be safe.

    It happens to me too.

    Do you see your comment yet?

  166. I just despammed 2 comments.

    Akismet gets “trained” by each de-spamming, and hopefully it will do a better job of recognizing you next time.

    Salvador

  167. Thanks Sal!

  168. [...] Sal Cordova responded – kind of – to my post yesterday in this comment buried deep in his post at Dembski’s place. Predictably, his response does not engage my argument; hell, it doesn’t even come close to engaging it. He was attempting to dispute NIck Matzke’s claim that the use of the phrase “intelligent design” in Of Pandas and People was the origin of that phrase as a label for the modern anti-evolution movement. Sal found an old letter where Darwin used the phrase and, for some reason, thought that actually disproved Matzke’s claim (it doesn’t, as I’ve explained several times without any substantive response). [...]

  169. Phinehas #162 (163):
    You have made some clarifying points that have increased my slow-witted understanding of your position.

    The essential point is whether there is a substance, which we call “thought,” that exists independently of the brain.
    Nope. That is what is at issue, but it is not at all the point. The point that KF made and that I reiterated is part of a logical argument relating to what is at issue, not a bare assertion of what is at issue. I’ve outlined that logical argument above, but you’ve chosen to be dismissive instead of addressing the argument on points.

    Yes, please pardon my confusion at failing to give sufficient weight to what you consider to be an important distinction between “what is at issue” and “what is the point.” However, I rejoice in your acknowledgment that the underlying issue is the existence of a metaphysical entity called “thought,” and I take it by extension that includes related metaphysical entities called “mind” and “soul,” etc.

    To counter the charge of being dismissive, I will address point III of your version of kf’s logical argument, to wit:

    III. The physical explanation for the origin of thought relies heavily on chance plus necessity.
    We agree that a logical argument is only as valid as its premises, and point III is clearly a premise. I am especially indebted to you for fleshing out what you mean in point III as follows:

    …I am not aware that there is a mountain of scholarship within evolutionary materialism that accounts for thought apart from blind reliance on chance and necessity. Exactly what does this mountain of scholarship rely on if not RM + NS?

    The scholarship relies on: observation, experiment and analysis Random mutation and natural selection address a theory of origins, not a theory of mind. See below.

    How does evomat account for the origin of thought? If by other than RM + NS, then please enlighten.

    Precisely put. This is the kernel of the nut. Evomat I take to be an acronym of “evolutionary materialism.” Current evolutionary work provides an account of the evolution of the brain, incomplete though it is, because all science is a work in progress. Inevitably you have brought us us back to what I asserted earlier to be the gounding premise of your argument, which I will restate in the context of your premise III:
    If (and only if) there is a substance called “thought” that exists independently of the brain, it follows logically that naturalists have not provided a coherent explanation for its origin.

    Some questions that you might want to consider for possible relevance:
    Do you claim that thought is possible without a brain to think it?
    Do you deny that other creatures, such as the chimpanzee, have brains?
    Do you deny that the chimpanzee’s brain enables him/her to exhibit purposeful behavior?
    Do you know that a chimpanzee is incapable of thought? If so, how do you know?

  170. Hi DK,

    DK: The scholarship relies on: observation, experiment and analysis Random mutation and natural selection address a theory of origins, not a theory of mind.

    Since no one is arguing against the existence of mind, but rather engaging in a discussion of its origin (either via physical methods of chance plus necessity or via intelligent design), I did not realize that this was a stumbling point. Also, I am a little confused about what this mountain of scholarship is thought to prove. Do you believe that it demonstrates that thoughts cannot possibly be metaphysical phenomena with physical manifestations?

    Even if it does show such (which I’m pretty sure it does not), I’m not sure this really helps the Evomat cause tremendously, since the origin of thought via chance and necessity calls both that mountain of scholarship and your beliefs regarding its veracity into question.

    Inevitably you have brought us us back to what I asserted earlier to be the gounding premise of your argument, which I will restate in the context of your premise III:
    If (and only if) there is a substance called “thought” that exists independently of the brain, it follows logically that naturalists have not provided a coherent explanation for its origin.

    Actually, I think it is you that keeps bringing us back inevitably to this. Every time you restate the premises in this argument, they don’t seem to end up being the same thing at all. One wonders why you feel the need to restate them instead of addressing them. If you would kindly allow me to represent my own premise, it would look more like this:

    If (and only if) there is not a phenomenon called “thought” that exists independently of the brain (i.e. the Evomat position), it follows logically that thought has chance and necessity as it origin.

    Of course, once the brain is assumed to be indistinguishable from thought (point II), this point is basically conceded by your assertion that the brain is the result of RM + NS (a valid rewording of point III). What this means is that your beliefs about that mountain of scholarship you referenced earlier are therefore the result of RM + NS, which brings us nicely to point IV, with points I – III very much still intact and all but conceded to.

    Again, did you wish to take on point IV?

    On the basis that there might possibly be some relevance (though I don’t personally see how), my answers to your questions are as follows.

    Though I believe on faith that it is, I cannot see a basis for making a scientific claim one way or the other. Nope. Nope. And nope.

  171. Phinehas #170:

    Thank you for asking me to address point IV of your argument. I want to do so, but I ask you first to help me understand it better so I don’t waste more of your time. Yesterday in addressing point III, to wit:

    III. The physical explanation for the origin of thought relies heavily on chance plus necessity.

    I thought (based on your clarifying remarks) that the slogan “chance and necessity” means “random mutation and natural selection,” and so I argued that those formative forces of evolution are believed by scientists to underlie a plausible account of the origin of the human brain.

    I now ask for clarification because earlier in this thread (Robo #46 and kf #49) reference was made to materialists having values based on “materials made of electrons and quarks” and thoughts based on “unintended by-products of the natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains.”

    To which interpretation does the reference to “chance and necessity” in point IV refer?

    IV. There is no warrant for believing that chance plus necessity will result in accurate thinking patterns that lead to truth.

    Shouldn’t there be a “therefore” at the prow of IV? It looks like a conclusion to me.

    Another point of clarification concerns the word “truth.” Is this another metaphysical entity or a descriptive term for accurate accounting of experience (as in “I swear to give the whole truth and nothing but the truth”)?

    Your other points:

    You said:

    Since no one is arguing against the existence of mind, but rather engaging in a discussion of its origin (either via physical methods of chance plus necessity or via intelligent design), I did not realize that this was a stumbling point. Also, I am a little confused about what this mountain of scholarship is thought to prove. Do you believe that it demonstrates that thoughts cannot possibly be metaphysical phenomena with physical manifestations?

    On the contrary, it shows that there is a physical basis for mental phenomena and that increases in our knowledge have not been hampered (actually they have been made possible) by deliberately excluding metaphysical notions. Example: should one have the misfortune of having to consult a neurologist for a cognitive problem, one need not question that good person about his religious affiliation or acceptance of metaphysical beliefs about “mind.” (Sorry, but I can’t resist being pragmatic, though I be damned for it.)

    If you would kindly allow me to represent my own premise, it would look more like this:
    If (and only if) there is not a phenomenon called “thought” that exists independently of the brain (i.e. the Evomat position), it follows logically that thought has chance and necessity as it origin.

    Of course, Phinehas, I admit that I am sometimes overzealous, and I apologize for that example. I find your version to be logically equivalent to mine and I thank you for it.

    Thank you also for your honest answers to my four questions, whose relevance to this argument, to my mind, is to the theistic notion that there is something unique about human thought (and its material basis) that is absent from the rest of creation.

  172. (Addendum)

    On further thought, I guess point IV is not a conclusion, but another premise and that point V is the conclusion.

    I hope that Phinehas will not mind if I ask that he reduce his five points to a syllogism, consisting of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion (if memory of what constitutes a syllogism serves).

    If he considers this to be a pedantic distraction, I understand. It’s just that I believe it would help me comprehend his argument better and raise the probablity that I will give a more coherent (and hopefully more adequate) response to it.

  173. I don’t mean to intrude but I would like to point out some empirical evidence for the mind existing separate from the brain:

    Next, we will look at the consciousness of man’s mind and consider the basis of its reality. How the consciousness relates to the body has two prevailing schools of thought challenging each other for the right to be called the truth. The first school of thought is Theistic in its philosophy; consciousness is a independent and separable entity from the brain. This school of thought implies it is possible to live beyond the of our brains. The second school of thought is Materialistic in its philosophy; consciousness is an dependent and inseparable product of the brain. This school of thought implies we die when the brain dies. Knowledge has recently come to light, establishing the first school of thought as the truth.
    Neuro-physiological (brain/body) research is now being performed, using a new scientific tool, trans-cranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). This tool allows scientists to study the brain non-invasively. TMS can excite or inhibit normal electrical activity in specific parts of the brain, depending on the amount of energy administered by TMS. This tool allows scientists to pinpoint what is happening in different regions of the brain (functional mapping of the brain). TMS is wide-ranging in its usefulness; allowing the study of brain/muscle connections, the five senses, language, the patho-physiology of brain disorders, as well as mood disorders, such as depression. TMS may even prove to be useful for therapy for such brain disorders. TMS also allows the study of how memories are stored. The ability of TMS for inhibiting (turning off) specific portions of the brain is the very ability which reveals things that are very illuminating to the topic we are investigating. Consciousness and the brain are actually separate entities.
    When the electromagnetic activity of a specific portion of the brain is inhibited by the higher energies of TMS, it impairs the functioning of the particular portion of the body associated with the particular portion of the brain being inhibited. For example; when the visual cortex (a portion of the brain) is inhibited by higher energies of TMS, the person undergoing the procedure will temporarily become blind while it is inhibited. One notable exception to this “becoming impaired rule” is a person’s memory. When the elusive “memory” portion of the brain is inhibited, a person will have a vivid flashback of a past part of their life. This very odd “amplification” of a memory indicates this fact; memories are stored in the “spiritual” consciousness independent of the brain. All of the bodies other physical functions which have physical connections in the brain are impaired when their corresponding portion of the brain loses its ability for normal electromagnetic activity. One would very well expect memories to be irretrievable from the brain if they were physically stored. Yet memories are vividly brought forth into consciousness when their corresponding locations in the brain are temporarily inhibited. This indicates that memories are somehow stored on a non-physical basis, separate from the brain in the “spiritual” consciousness. Memory happens to be a crucially integrated part of any thinking consciousness. This is true, whether or not consciousness is physically or spiritually-based. Where memory is actually located is a sure sign of where the consciousness is actually located. It provides a compelling clue as to whether consciousness is physically or spiritually-based. Vivid memory recall, upon inhibition of a portion of brain where memory is being communicated from consciousness, is exactly what one would expect to find if consciousness is ultimately self-sufficient of brain function and spiritually-based. The opposite result, a ening of memories, is what one would expect to find if consciousness is ultimately physically-based. According to this insight, a large portion, if not all, of the one quadrillion synapses that have developed in the brain as we became s, are primarily developed as pathways for information to be transmitted to, and memories to be transmitted from, our consciousness. The synapses of the brain are not, in and of themselves, our primary source for memories. Indeed, decades of extensive research by brilliant, Nobel prize-winning, minds have failed to reveal where memory is stored in the brain. Though Alzheimer’s and other disorders affect the brain’s overall ability to recover memories, this is only an indication that the overall ability of the brain to recover memory from the consciousness has been affected, and does not in any way conclusively establish that memory is actually stored in the brain.
    In other developments, Dr. Olaf Blanke recently described in the peer-reviewed science journal “Nature” a patient who had “out of body experiences (OBEs)”, when the electrical activity of the gyrus-angularis portion of the brain was inhibited by higher energy TMS. Though some materialists try to twist this into some type of natural explanation for spiritual experiences, by saying the portion of the brain is being stimulated, it is actually a prime example clearly indicating consciousness is independent of the brain; for the portion of the brain is in fact, being inhibited, instead of stimulated ! This patient, Dr. Olaf Blanke described, should be grateful that consciousness is independent of the brain. If consciousness were truly dependent on the brain for its survival, as materialist insist, then the patient would have most likely died; at least while that particular portion of the brain was being inhibited. Obviously, that portion of the brain which was inhibited in the patient, is the very seat of the brain’s consciousness.
    In other compelling evidence, many children who have had hemispherectomies (half their brains removed due to life threatening epileptic conditions) at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, are in high school; and one, a college student, is on the dean’s list. The families of these children can barely believe the transformation; and not so long ago, neurologists and neuro-surgeons found it hard to believe as well. What is surprising for these people is that they are having their overriding materialistic view of brain correlation to consciousness overturned. In other words; since, it is presumed by Materialism that the brain is the primary generator of consciousness; then, it is totally expected for a person having half their brain removed to be severely affected when it comes to memory and personality. This is clearly a contradiction between the Materialistic and Theistic philosophies. According to Materialistic dogma, memory and personality should be affected, just as badly, or at least somewhat as badly, as any of the other parts of the body, by removal of half the brain. Yet, as a team of neuro-surgeons that have done extensive research on the after effects of hemispherectomy at John Hopkins Medical Center comment: “We are awed by the apparent retention of the child’s memory after removal of half of the brain, either half; and by the retention of the child’s personality and sense of humor.” Though a patients physical capacities are impaired, just as they were expected to be immediately following surgery; and have to have time to be “rewired” to the consciousness in the brain, the memory and personality of the patient comes out unscathed in the aftermath of such radical surgery. This is exactly the result one would expect, if the consciousness is ultimately independent of brain function and is spiritually-based. This is totally contrary to the results one would expect if the consciousness were actually physically-based, as the materialistic theory had presumed. In further comment from the neuro-surgeons in the John Hopkins study: “Despite removal of one hemisphere, the intellect of all but one of the children seems either unchanged or improved. Intellect was only affected in the one child who had remained in a coma, vigil-like state, attributable to peri-operative complications.” This is stunning proof of consciousness being independent of brain function. The only child not to have normal or improved intellect is the child who remained in a coma due to complications during surgery. It is also heartening to find that many of the patients regain full use, or almost full use, of their bodies after a varying period of recuperation in which the brain is “rewired” to the consciousness.
    II Corinthians 5:1
    For we know that if our earthly house, this tent (Our Body), is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

    Yet, more evidence for the independence of consciousness is found in Dr. Pim van Lommels’ study of sixty-two of his cardiac patients who had near experiences (NDE’s). NDE’s are the phenomena of someone being physically for a short time; yet, when they are revived, they report they were in their spiritual bodies, outside of their physical bodies and taken to another dimension. Dr. Lommel’s research found no weakness in the Theistic presumption of a spiritually independent consciousness. He and his colleagues published their research in the peer-reviewed journal (Lancet, Dec. 2001). Not only did their research not find any weaknesses in the Theistic presumption; their findings severely weakened or ruled out all Materialistic presumptions that had been put forth such as anoxia in the brain, release of endomorphines, NMDA receptor blockage or medications given. Their findings also ruled out suspected psychological explanations as well; such as a coping mechanism brought on by the fear of imminent or fore-knowledge of NDE. They even had a patient in the NDE study who identified the exact nurse who took his dentures while he was in cardiac arrest. This is something only someone who was conscious of the operating room, even though he was physically , could have seen the nurse doing (Many NDE report floating above their bodies, observing the operating room from the ceiling, before going to another dimension). In other similar studies, cases in which was extracted at the time of the NDE did not support the anoxia or hypercarbia theories. It is also established that the administered to the patients, such as painkillers, appeared to inhibit and confuse rather than cause the NDE. The combination of all data from recent and retrospective research provides a large amount of evidence, which can no longer be ignored or explained away. The fact that clear, lucid experiences were reported during a time when the brain was proven to be devoid of activity (Aminoff et al., 1988, Clute and Levy 1990, de Vries et al., 1998), does not sit easily with the current scientific belief system of materialism. In another fascinating study (Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper, 1997) of thirty-one blind people who had a NDE, twenty-four of the blind people reported that they could see while they were out of their physical bodies. Many of them had been blind since birth. Likewise, many deaf people reported they were able to hear while they were having a NDE.
    So, in answer to the question: “Is consciousness a physically or spiritually-based phenomena?”; we can, with the assurance of scientific integrity backing us up, reply that consciousness is indeed a spiritual phenomena capable of living independently of the brain, once the brain ceases to function. Dr. Lommel illustrates in his paper that the real purpose of the brain is as a mediator of the physical world to the spiritual consciousness. He compares the brain to such things as a television, radio and cell phone, to illustrate the point. The point he is trying to make clear is this; the brain is not the end point of information. It is “only” a conveyor of information to and from the true end point, our spiritually-based consciousness which is independent of the physical brain and able to live past the of our brains.

    Genesis 2:7
    And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

    It is clear from these recent developments, the materialistic philosophy will only severely impede further scientific progress in this very promising area. Instead of scientists investigating how the consciousness actually interacts with the material brain, and making important discoveries of how the spiritual realm actually interacts with the material realm, scientists will be forced into blind goose chases trying to explain how consciousness arises from a purely materialistic basis.
    The hard evidence makes it clear that the presumptions of Materialism have been proven to be false at both the level of the universe’s foundational reality and at the level of consciousness in human beings. Whereas the Theistic presumptions of the universe’s creation from a transcendent Creator, and of the consciousness’s ability to live completely separate from the brain, are both strongly supported by the hard evidences that have been brought forth by recent discoveries in science. Now, having established that Materialism has an extremely shaky foundation to begin with if indeed it can be found to have any foundation at all; let us take a hard look at a one of the more famously documented Near Experiences. The NDE of Pam Reynolds. This is the account of that NDE.

    A team in Phoenix specializes in an extreme form of neurosurgery called hypothermic cardiac arrest that has been created to allow operation on aneurysms deep in the brain. A 35-year-old woman undertook this surgery. Her eyes were taped shut to prevent them from drying out. They put electrodes in the auditory section of the brain stem and put molded speakers in her ears which played a constant beep, a setup designed to gauge responsiveness in the brainstem. These speakers prevented her from hearing anything in the room besides the beeps. They cooled her body to 60 degrees, which lowered her metabolic rate enough so that the surgeons could operate for a long time deep in the brain. They then rerouted her from a femoral artery into a heart-pump, though they had to switch legs because the first vessel was too small, thereby prolonging the surgery. When the EEG was flat and the brainstem stopped responding, she was by most standard medical criteria . flowed out into the heart-pump and back into the body. Next they shut off the pump and tilted the table up so that all the drained out of her brain. Only then was it safe to open her skull to clip off the aneurysm. The time of anesthetization in this procedure is about 90 minutes./// The woman reported leaving her body and hearing a D-natural buzzing sound. She watched the surgery and was puzzled by what appeared to be an electric toothbrush which one member of the team was using on her head. She also reported hearing the woman doctor say, “These vessels are too small. We can’t use them for the pump.” At that point, she got distracted, saw the light, went through a tunnel, saw a deceased grandmother and a few other deceased relatives who told her she had to go back. As she was coming out of the surgery, she had a cardiac arrest and they had to shock her twice to get her back. When the procedure was all over, she described to the neurosurgeon everything she saw, including the strange electric toothbrush and the box that it came in with several different attachable heads. It turned out she had accurately described a Midas Rex saw, which is used only for this procedure, and which makes a buzzing sound. So, with this case we have an example of someone who was visually and auditorally isolated, had a flat EEG, and should not have been able to think, and yet she commented that she had never thought so clearly in her life.

    The paragraph below is a quote of the same event from an anonymous writer in a NDE newsgroup:

    Such is the case of Pam Reynolds who is quite well known in the NDE community. She was having surgery performed to remove an aneurysm from her brain. Her body was cooled to below 60 degrees F. and all of the was drained from her body. Her EEG and brain stem response showed no activity, the definition of brain in many states. During all of this, she reported rising from her body and seeing the operation performed below her. She also reported contact with “The Light” and many of her deceased relatives in heaven. Remember, she had no brain activity whatsoever. Even hallucinations register brain activity. It is interesting that upon recovering she recounted accurately many details of her operation, including conversations heard and a description of the surgical instruments. It has been postulated by a NDE skeptic, that Pam overheard the sounds in the room and generated a “mental map” of things around her. What the skeptic failed to acknowledge though is that instruments were inserted into Pam’s ears that generated clicks to measure brain stem response. Her brain stem response throughout the surgery was inactive. If conversations were heard, her brain stem response should have registered them.
    According to Pam, she was present, above her body, viewing the whole surgical operation; her consciousness, memory, personality; her whole individuality intact. She proved this with an accurate, detailed description of the instruments, conversation, and procedures used during the surgery. At the same time, science, using scientific monitoring instruments, was proving that her body was . No brain response, no heart response, no response of any kind. Obviously, the brain, nor any other organ of the body, was needed to sustain her life, and this account is just one example of the that exist in NDE literature.

    I believe this is as conclusive as proof gets. Clear, solid proof that man is a “spiritual” being inhabiting a physical body. To me it is clear that the philosophy that has held true in its predictions throughout all the evidences we have examined in this paper is the true philosophy we should follow as the truth. That philosophy is Theism.

  174. I hope that Phinehas will not mind if I ask that he reduce his five points to a syllogism, consisting of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion (if memory of what constitutes a syllogism serves).

    The five points will actually require multiple syllogisms to express them, but I will be happy to attempt to break them down if you think it will help.

    …I argued that those formative forces of evolution are believed by scientists to underlie a plausible account of the origin of the human brain.

    I think this statement pretty much stipulates to the first few syllogisms. Let me know if you think otherwise.

    According to the Evomat position:

    I.
    – Nothing exists that has an immaterial component.
    – Thought exists.
    – Therefore, thought does not have an immaterial component.

    II.
    – Thought does not have an immaterial component.
    – The brain is the material component of thought.
    – Therefore, the brain is all that exists of thought.

    III.
    – The brain is all that exists of thought.
    – The brain evolved via the forces of random mutation and natural selection.
    – Therefore, thought evolved via the forces of random mutation and natural selection.

    Is this a fair rendering of your beliefs as reflected in your statement above? If so, then this perfectly reflects what I was saying in my earlier points I – III. Before moving on to the fourth syllogism, allow my to clarify as requested.

    Another point of clarification concerns the word “truth.” Is this another metaphysical entity or a descriptive term for accurate accounting of experience (as in “I swear to give the whole truth and nothing but the truth”)?

    This is a good question. I would define truth as the ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience. Is this what you mean by a metaphysical entity? It certainly goes beyond mere perception in that it recognizes the difference between a witness’ truthful perception of what occurred and what occurred in actuality. It is the whole reason for having discussions such as the one in which we are currently engaging, since it would seem incoherent to argue over perceptions. How could one possibly convince another that the other didn’t perceive what he purported to perceive?

    So, moving on.

    IV.
    – Thought evolved via the forces of random mutation and natural selection.
    – There is nothing inherent in the forces of random mutation and natural selection that suggest they will result in the ability to discern an ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience.
    – Therefore, thought cannot be trusted to discern an ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience.

    In other words, when beginning with the Evomat premise, one ends with self-refuting incoherence. Strangely enough, however, the materialists will continue to argue as if there is an ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience; that they know what this reality is; and that those who don’t believe this reality are ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but they’d rather not consider that).

  175. Phinehas,

    I see that have posted a reply that on first glance looks responsive and helpful.

    I’m off for a Labor Day break and I hope that you will enjoy one too.

    See you Tuesday, September 4 if not sooner.

    Best wishes,

    Daniel

  176. Enjoy your weekend! –Phin

  177. Phinehas # 174:

    Thank you for waiting upon my reply.

    I hope that Phinehas will not mind if I ask that he reduce his five points to a syllogism, consisting of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion (if memory of what constitutes a syllogism serves).

    On further inspection I see that you have not been entirely responsive to my request above. Whereas I asked if you would reduce your five points to one syllogism, instead you proceeded to expand them towards five syllogisms.

    I asked you to condense your entire argument to a single syllogism, based on my understanding that you are attempting to make a deductive argument, in which a conclusion necessarily follows from the premises, as alluded to in kairosfocus #144. If your argument is not deductive, but inductive, please set me straight.

    I hasten to add that the work you put into clarifying your mental journey to conclusion III (which is the first premise of syllogism IV) was not wasted. It has enhanced my understanding of the gulf that separates us. Now I want to move on to an analysis of what you so helpfully presented as syllogism IV. In doing so, I will temporarily skip your clarification of the meaning of “truth,” and will return to it later in this post.

    I think we both recognize that IV is the crux of your position. So, assuming that you are presenting a deductive argument, let’s examine your premises.

    1. Thought evolved via the forces of random mutation and natural selection.

    Premise flawed, but not too much. This is a statement of the conclusion of argument III, and I accept it, provided that “thinking” be substituted for “thought.” Since your argument is aimed at proving that my beliefs are incoherent, I think it is only fair that my beliefs be presented as I actually hold them.

    2. There is nothing inherent in the forces of random mutation and natural selection that suggest they will result in the ability to discern an ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience.

    Flawed premise. OK up to “ability,” but then it gets off track with notions of a transcendent reality. I would say, “There is nothing deterministic about random mutation and natural selection that would inevitably have brought about the existence of human beings, to say nothing of beings that possess thinking brains.” Again, it is my beliefs and suppositions that are proposed to be questionable.

    3. Therefore, thought cannot be trusted to discern an ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience.

    This conclusion is moot, because I never claimed to be able to discern an ideal or fundamental reality, and it does not follow necessarily from your premises. I offer for your consideration the hypothesis that your entire argument derives from the unstated assumption that Evomat can’t be true because it is not deterministic. Is it not correct that the theistic model of existence is deterministic?

    In other words, when beginning with the Evomat premise, one ends with self-refuting incoherence. Strangely enough, however, the materialists will continue to argue as if there is an ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience; that they know what this reality is; and that those who don’t believe this reality are ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but they’d rather not consider that).

    Back to the notion of an “ideal or fundamental reality.” I do not deny the existence of a real world. It bumps into me repeatedly. However, the only tools that I have available in perceiving that world are my senses. So, when you asked earlier:

    …it would seem incoherent to argue over perceptions. How could one possibly convince another that the other didn’t perceive what he purported to perceive?

    One would do that by providing evidence that the belief arising from other person’s perceptions is incorrect. To illustrate, a scenario:
    Tom: I saw you downtown last week with a strange woman.
    Dick: It couldn’t have been me, because I was in Paris last week.
    Tom: But I saw you.
    Dick: Here is a dated photo of my wife and me standing before the Eiffel tower, and here is my wife who will confirm my account.
    Tom: I guess I was mistaken. (Curtain)

    To conclude: I doubt that materialists argue that there is a transcendent reality (independent of what we can perceive). There are some persons, mainly writers of books attacking theism, who claim that theists are “ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked…).” If those claims are based on evidence, they should be addressed. If they are not, they should be derided.
    Although theists have nothing to fear from Evomat, some do fear it. Why? Their disbelief in evolution is unlikely to have a direct impact on their lives. I personally need to rely on Evomat for my work as a biologist, because at this moment in history there is no better paradigm to explain all of the available data, including the data that are my work product. If and when a better paradigm comes along, I will embrace it wholeheartedly.

    My thanks again for your patient and courteous involvement in this discussion.

  178. Not sure where to begin. :P

    Let’s start with the “transcendent reality” issue, since surely every part of the argument must hinge on our understanding regarding this. You gave the following helpful illustration.

    Tom: I saw you downtown last week with a strange woman.
    Dick: It couldn’t have been me, because I was in Paris last week.
    Tom: But I saw you.
    Dick: Here is a dated photo of my wife and me standing before the Eiffel tower, and here is my wife who will confirm my account.
    Tom: I guess I was mistaken.

    In your illustration, it seems clear to me that Tom and Dick are both arguing as though there is an ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience. They are arguing as though there is a truth about whether Dick was downtown or not. The truth about whether or not Dick was downtown is not defined by perception, or else how does Tom’s perception about Dick being downtown not make it true?

    Given you previous field goal posts for truth (as in, “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…”), if Tom were to go to court and tell a Judge that he saw Dick downtown with another woman on this particular date, how would this not meet your standard of truth, since Tom, to the best of his ability, would be giving an accurate accounting of his experience?

    In other words, you seem to be suggesting that Tom’s perception and experience fall short of actual truth, but if truth does not transcend perception and experience, how is this possible?

  179. I asked you to condense your entire argument to a single syllogism, based on my understanding that you are attempting to make a deductive argument, in which a conclusion necessarily follows from the premises, as alluded to in kairosfocus #144. If your argument is not deductive, but inductive, please set me straight.

    The argument is deductive. That should be clear. Though I did think your original request was a bit pedantic, I complied for clarity’s sake. At this point, however, I am a bit confused about what could possibly motivate you to suggest that a reductio ad absurdum argument showing through a logical series of conclusions how the original premise was flawed must be reduced to a single syllogism. How does this not go beyond pedantic to being arbitrary and even absurd?

    Premise flawed, but not too much. This is a statement of the conclusion of argument III, and I accept it, provided that “thinking” be substituted for “thought.” Since your argument is aimed at proving that my beliefs are incoherent, I think it is only fair that my beliefs be presented as I actually hold them.

    Again, I find this a rather confusing manner of looking at a reductio ad absurdum argument. Only the first premise rests on your beliefs. The rest follows logically (although you are, of course, free to demonstrate how it does not). One suspects that you are not so much interested in clarifying your beliefs here as you are in changing my argument. Evidence abounds in this thread that you prefer this tact mightily over actually addressing arguments. In fact, one need not look further than later down in this same posting for more evidence of this.

    Flawed premise. OK up to “ability,” but then it gets off track with notions of a transcendent reality. I would say, “There is nothing deterministic about random mutation and natural selection that would inevitably have brought about the existence of human beings, to say nothing of beings that possess thinking brains.” Again, it is my beliefs and suppositions that are proposed to be questionable.

    After throwing out an unsupported assertion, you once again spell out what you [think I should have argued? | wish I had argued? | would prefer to address as an argument?] ??? This is the same tact you took with KF. Could you humor me here, and attempt to address arguments without restating them? Just try it for once? I mean, I don’t mind if you offer up a restatement when asking for clarification about what someone is arguing, but the continued resort to restating arguments without the permission on the person making the argument might reveal a deep insecurity about your ability to address them. You do realize, do you not, that making unsupported assertions while restating an opposing argument into some arbitrary form that you prefer isn’t the same thing as addressing an argument?

    You asserted that “notions of a transcendent reality” somehow get the premise “off track.” To your credit, you then put forward an illustration to try to prop up this assertion. I’ve addressed this in my previous post. Note that I did not change your illustration so that it was more in line with what I wish you were arguing. I also deal with what I believe to be an accurate representation of your position regarding truth as what a witness would tell under oath. If I have misrepresented your position in regards to either of these, then please clarify. Hopefully we can make some progress by proceeding in this manner.

  180. All (esp P and DK):

    It seems a rather interesting exchange continued during my adventures in Barbados and on one of our regional carriers. (Let’s just say, I had the experience of hearing my flight “closed for boarding” on arriving at the check-in counter, then was told the plane — due to Dean — had not left Grenada, then nope the plane was on the ground but the crew was stuck in G, then finally the plane was under repairs, amounting to six hours delay; then we finally flew only to wait an hour for baggage, learning then that the baggage had not been loaded! At least, I made it home complete with “carry by hand” expensive ceramics [a gift – the interview at the local airport, along lines of did you personally pack this, to which my response was, more or less that only a pro should pack that sort of thing! They acted like they were catching a “mule” until they saw the real nice pieces!] and I suspect that both the travel fun and the PC adventures subsequent to arrival — I am unexpectedly in the laptop market again . . . looking at a nice Toshiba (with fond Mac and Vaio thoughts/fantasies . . .), but may have to settle for a pedestrian Dell — were due to a few vexed gremlins!)

    My overall assessment is that P has won, hands down – and has given a nice summary on points along the way of the original case as excerpted in 49 above [and as linked therefrom]. BTW, my flight and departure lounge reading of choice was Dallas Willard’s extension of the issue in this paper on the conundrum of naturalism and knowledge; well worth the “three-times” read that sort of stuff usually takes to soak in.

    BTW, P, can I use your summary with appropriate ascription of source?

    The fact that DK has found himself trying to substitute a debate over a strawman issue on metaphysics, instead of addressing the dynamical coherence thence logical coherence of Evolutionary Materialism, is telling.

    On points of interest:

    1] Chance + Necessity –> Cosmos [from hydrogen to humans], again . . .

    In essence, the worldview of naturalism, for our purposes, is best described as a cascade of evolutionary materialist evolutions driven by chance + necessity only, i.e. agency is rules out ahead of time, however one may rationalise that. (The usual claim is more or less, “there is no evidence of agents until we turned up,” which of course begs a few questions. A softer phrasing is that we should only assert empirically observed entities in science, i.e material ones, again begging the question; for we may ask ourselves, just who is making the observation, and — on the point of this thread as Sal has graciously allowed it to officially evolve — why we should trust the deliverances of the senses and minds implicated?)

    Now, notoriously [Cf. Denyse's many posts on this here and at her own blogs], the C + N –> Cosmos view runs into difficulties with four “big bangs” and one corollary:

    [1] origin of a fine-tuned, life-habitable, scientifically observable cosmos;

    [2] origin of life based on immensely complex and functionally specified molecular information systems in DNA, RNA, enzymes, ribosomes, etc, which is well beyond the credible reach of C + N within the ambit of the observed cosmos

    [3] origin of body-plan level biodiversity on earth which requires the same information-generation and processing, moving across a bit length from about 1 Mbits to 3 – 4 Gbits, well beyond the reasonable reach of C + N on the scale just described.

    [4] origin of a credible mind [and of associated morality . . .] required to think through the issue.

    –> Our focus here is on 4, and the point is that as 49 summarised, evolutionary materialist mechanisms are asserted to be dynamically capable of achieving each of the four big bangs, on an inference to best explanation basis.

    –> In short, EM must stand on its own two feet, before we can even properly ask whether it is a better explanation than one that does not in effect a priori for worldviews commitment reasons, rule out agency — the ONLY known, empirically observed and massively confirmed source of functionally specified, complex information — as a possible source of the information and fine-tuned co-adaptation we see in the four big bangs.

    –> on the evidence of the thread and onward discussions as reflected in part above, plainly EM is in serious trouble on 4. And that in turn implicates it in self-referential inconsistency. Hilary Putnam, as cited and summarised by Willard, is trenchant:

    We would still want to know if our belief is “true,” “correct,” “right.” Putnam asks: “Why should we expend our mental energy in convincing ourselves that we aren’t thinkers, that our thoughts aren’t really about anything, noumenal or phenomenal, that there is no sense in which any thought is right or wrong (including the thought that no thought is right or wrong) beyond being the verdict of the moment , and so on? This is a self-refuting enterprise if there ever was one!”

    2] On Dismissing “notions of transcendent reality” . . .

    The heart of DK’s strawmen arguments, as P points out, is that he tries to push into an analysis on whether EM mechanisms are dynamically credibly capable of giving us the minds that we must use to even think EM thoughts, the debate on the credibility of metaphysical entities unacceptable to materialists. But of course in so doing he misses a major issue, namely that assumptions about the nature of reality are inevitable on all worldviews – EM ones as much non-EM ones, so the difficulties on factual adequacy, coherence (dynamical as well as logical!) and explanatory elegance vs either simplisticness or ad hocness.

    But, such a dismissal by prejudice in favour of EM obviously begs the question at ontological levels – cf. Willard on that. Howbeit, tha tis besides our point.

    That point is that EM has to have dynamical coherence and credibility on the origin of mind, or it becomes self-defeating through logical self-undermining. And plainly, it does not. (Thus the attempted change of subject or the assertion of magical “emergence” of unaccounted for properties, or the writing of yet another blank cheque on an account with a now decades long track record of bouncing on promises to account coherently for mind.)

    So, let’s really get down to business!

    GEM of TKI

  181. Welcome back, KF

  182. BTW, P, can I use your summary with appropriate ascription of source?

    Of course! I’d be tickled pink to be able to contribute in any way.

    And welcome back!

  183. Yes, welcome back, kf. You certainly had an adventurous journey. For the time being, I hope you won’t mind if I continue my dialog with Phinehas.
    Phinehas #179:

    The argument is deductive. That should be clear.

    Good. Here are what I understand to be properties of a deductive argument:

    A deductive argument consists of premises and a conclusion.

    A deductive argument must satisfy two conditions: (1) the premises must all be true, and (2) the argument must be valid. If those conditions are satisfied, the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises.

    No valid deductive argument can guarantee the truth of its premises unless its premises are tautologies.

    You will advise me if you disagree with any of the above.

    …I am a bit confused about what could possibly motivate you to suggest that a reductio ad absurdum argument showing through a logical series of conclusions how the original premise was flawed must be reduced to a single syllogism.

    I am not familiar with the rules pertaining to a reductio ad absurdum argument. Are there special rules above and beyond the properties I cited above?

    The rest follows logically (although you are, of course, free to demonstrate how it does not). One suspects that you are not so much interested in clarifying your beliefs here as you are in changing my argument. Evidence abounds in this thread that you prefer this tact mightily over actually addressing arguments.

    Flawed premise. OK up to “ability,” but then it gets off track with notions of a transcendent reality. I would say, “There is nothing deterministic about random mutation and natural selection that would inevitably have brought about the existence of human beings, to say nothing of beings that possess thinking brains.” Again, it is my beliefs and suppositions that are proposed to be questionable.

    After throwing out an unsupported assertion, you once again spell out what you [think I should have argued? | wish I had argued? | would prefer to address as an argument?] ??? This is the same tact you took with KF. Could you humor me here, and attempt to address arguments without restating them? Just try it for once? I mean, I don’t mind if you offer up a restatement when asking for clarification about what someone is arguing, but the continued resort to restating arguments without the permission on the person making the argument might reveal a deep insecurity about your ability to address them. You do realize, do you not, that making unsupported assertions while restating an opposing argument into some arbitrary form that you prefer isn’t the same thing as addressing an argument?
    Does this mean that I am forbidden to challenge or question your premises?

    What is the unsupported assertion?

  184. Sorry for the bad formatting above. The paragraph above my penultimate sentence, “Does this mean that I am forbidden…” should have been included in the previous blockquote of remarks by Phineas.

  185. Phinehas #178:

    Let’s start with the “transcendent reality” issue, since surely every part of the argument must hinge on our understanding regarding this. You gave the following helpful illustration.
    Tom: I saw you downtown last week with a strange woman.
    Dick: It couldn’t have been me, because I was in Paris last week.
    Tom: But I saw you.
    Dick: Here is a dated photo of my wife and me standing before the Eiffel tower, and here is my wife who will confirm my account.
    Tom: I guess I was mistaken.
    In your illustration, it seems clear to me that Tom and Dick are both arguing as though there is an ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience. They are arguing as though there is a truth about whether Dick was downtown or not. The truth about whether or not Dick was downtown is not defined by perception, or else how does Tom’s perception about Dick being downtown not make it true?
    Given you previous field goal posts for truth (as in, “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…”), if Tom were to go to court and tell a Judge that he saw Dick downtown with another woman on this particular date, how would this not meet your standard of truth, since Tom, to the best of his ability, would be giving an accurate accounting of his experience?
    In other words, you seem to be suggesting that Tom’s perception and experience fall short of actual truth, but if truth does not transcend perception and experience, how is this possible?

    To say that something is true is to assert that thing. Thus, to say that the proposition, “I saw you downtown last week,” is true, adds nothing substantive to Tom’s original statement. So, asserting the truth of a proposition is logically superfluous. Similarly, to say that the proposition, “Tom saw Dick downtown last week,” is false, is simply to deny that proposition.

    It follows that the question of whether there is a substance called “truth,” that exists independently of propositions is to assert the existence of an entity that adds no new information.

    Likewise, concerning notions of a “transcendent reality,” or of “an ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience.” The words “transcendent, ideal, and fundamental” add no further information to the term “reality” They generate illusions of metaphysical entities that confuse our thinking.

  186. A deductive argument consists of premises and a conclusion.

    A deductive argument must satisfy two conditions: (1) the premises must all be true, and (2) the argument must be valid. If those conditions are satisfied, the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises.

    No valid deductive argument can guarantee the truth of its premises unless its premises are tautologies.

    You will advise me if you disagree with any of the above.

    This is becoming a sideshow. A cynical person might suspect that it is becoming so because you feel more comfortable arguing about arguing than addressing the original argument on points. Not being quite that cynical, I will make another attempt. No, I don’t disagree with any of the above. Why would I? I note however, that the above does not state that any deductive argument whose intent is to move logically from one proposition through a series of steps in order to demonstrate self-referential incoherence must only and always be stated as a single syllogism. To make such a restriction is arbitrary and absurd. It would be like saying that a mathematical proof starting at any arbitrary axiom can only ever have one step in it. I feel rather silly even having to explain this, so I really hope we can move past arguing about arguing in order to address the issue on the table.

    Does this mean that I am forbidden to challenge or question your premises?

    On the contrary. I would be absolutely thrilled to have you challenge a premise. You seem to be operating under the mistaken impression that when you change a premise, you have somehow challenged it.

  187. To say that something is true is to assert that thing. Thus, to say that the proposition, “I saw you downtown last week,” is true, adds nothing substantive to Tom’s original statement. So, asserting the truth of a proposition is logically superfluous. Similarly, to say that the proposition, “Tom saw Dick downtown last week,” is false, is simply to deny that proposition.

    This doesn’t seem very responsive. I asked several pointed questions, and suddenly you switch from talking about perceptions to talking about propositions. I’m still wondering the following about your perception -oriented concept of truth.

    1. How does Tom’s perception about Dick being downtown not make it true?

    2. If Tom were to go to court and tell a Judge that he saw Dick downtown with another woman on this particular date, how would this not meet your standard of truth, since Tom, to the best of his ability, would be giving an accurate accounting of his experience?

    3. You seem to be suggesting that Tom’s perception and experience fall short of actual truth, but if truth does not transcend perception and experience, how is this possible?

    Could you please help clear these up before jumping on to other things?

  188. Hi All (esp. Trib, P & & DK ):

    Continuing to battle a sick PC while waiting on a new one. The Gremlins are having fun!

    I looked at the onward exchange overnight, and must agree with P that too much of this interaction on the EM-supportive side now seems to be very much like an attempt to change the subject. But perhaps, there is a substantial issue there, so let’s first look at it then comment on a few points of substance:

    1] Deduction and reductio:

    There are three varieties of arguments of consequence to our discussion: deductive [which includes not just syllogistic arguments but the far more common implication arguments], inductive, and abductive. As I noted on previously in my page on phil tools, scientific arguments use abduction to propose creative explanations, deduce consequences, and test them against observation, then induce that reliable explanations are to be taken provisionally as warranted, true beliefs. In Mathematics, we routinely infer through chains of implications, either to directly infer a conclusion, or else to deny the consequent so that we might reject a specific antecedent claim in the chain of inference.

    That is, reductio in Mathematics rests on the logic of implication P => Q, NOT-Q so not -P. Of course, in the steps of inference, what happens is that we have a circle of trusted principles and results used int eh inferences, and one chosen null hyp if you will, that will on deduction, yield a contradiction, i.e affirming A and NOT-A in the same sense. Since a contradiction has truth value 0, on material implication it “implies” any and everything, i.e results in confusion. We therefore reject such a result.

    2] Extending to coherence as a worldviews test for EM

    In the case in view, Evo Mat, we are dealing with a worldview, but the same logic applies. Here, as 49 etc summarise, the point is that EM asserts that all of the world we experience as we live is the product of chance plus necessity acting on essentially physical objects [atoms and related particles in the end]. So, we see the cascade of evolutionary explanations from cosmogenesis, through planetary origin, through chem evo through abiogenesis, on to macroevolution and finally socio-cultural evolution, then voila, us here int his forum.

    Now, too, routinely, EM thinkers discredit their opponents as having their thoughts and conclusions shaped not by logic or truth, but by the dynamics of the above listed evolutions. Freud, Marx, Skinner, Crick and many others can be given as illustrations in point. But that knife cuts both ways, and it immediately brings their own thoughts into self-reference and inconsistency. Further, as Plantinga, Lewis, Willard, and others all the way back to Plato etc point out, this is a property of not just the particular cases, but is a general one: such thinkers argue that EM and other forms of naturalism end up unable to account for mind relative to the dynamics of chance and necessity, leading to dynamical inadequacy and incoherence, thence to self-referential incoherence given the subject at stake.

    In short, the issue is that relative to its own proposed dynamics of origin and development of the cosmos from hydrogen to humans, EM saws off the branch on which it sits. For, as C S Lewis was fond of pointing out, such a position is arrived at by . . . THINKING.

    In that context, the persistent attempt to invoke magic – aka, “emergent properties” that are radically different from those of the constituent parts and their interactions, or the consistent changing of subject [which diverts attention and may serve to cloud the atmosphere through use of loaded language], or to alter the argument into a different one all point to the compelling force of the argument as it stands. For instance, let us consider . . .

    3] DK, 185: To say that something is true is to assert that thing. Thus, to say that the proposition, “I saw you downtown last week,” is true, adds nothing substantive to Tom’s original statement.

    Now, this is an excellent example of the subject shift above.

    First, it ducks the key point about a proposition: it is true or false. To state a proposition is not to affirm its truth value, so to add to a statement, P, that TV [P] = 1, does add something important, especially where there is warrant in the affirmation.

    More importantly, under this issue lurks the point that Locke addressed in his introduction to his essay on human understanding, Section 5, as cited and linked in 79 above:

    Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with [by God, cf. context, a cite in Gk fr 2 Pt 1:2 – 4] because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 - 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly.

    And of course, to go on to selectively and question-beggingly doubt what one does not want to accept while being more generous with what one is inclined to accept is obvious self-referential inconsistency.

    So, now, can we return tot he substantial issue before us, whether in my formulaiton in 49 or P’s subsequent ones?

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Above DK attempts an unfortunate bit of elephant hurling by Google-search numbers. To do so he ignores the point that when we inspect the arguments, they are either irrelevant to the soundness or otherwise of the argument in 49 etc, or else they are simply and demonstrably unsound, or they disguise an acceptance.

  189. Hi All (esp. Trib, P & & DK ):

    Continuing to battle a sick PC while waiting on a new one. The Gremlins are having fun!

    I looked at the onward exchange overnight, and must agree with P that too much of this interaction on the EM-supportive side now seems to be very much like an attempt to change the subject. But perhaps, there is a substantial issue there, so let’s first look at it then comment on a few points of substance:

    1] Deduction and reductio:

    There are three varieties of arguments of consequence to our discussion: deductive [which includes not just syllogistic arguments but the far more common implication arguments], inductive, and abductive. As I noted on previously in my page on phil tools, scientific arguments use abduction to propose creative explanations, deduce consequences, and test them against observation, then induce that reliable explanations are to be taken provisionally as warranted, true beliefs. In Mathematics, we routinely infer through chains of implications, either to directly infer a conclusion, or else to deny the consequent so that we might reject a specific antecedent claim in the chain of inference.

    That is, reductio in Mathematics rests on the logic of implication P => Q, NOT-Q so not -P. Of course, in the steps of inference, what happens is that we have a circle of trusted principles and results used int eh inferences, and one chosen null hyp if you will, that will on deduction, yield a contradiction, i.e affirming A and NOT-A in the same sense. Since a contradiction has truth value 0, on material implication it “implies” any and everything, i.e results in confusion. We therefore reject such a result.

    2] Extending to coherence as a worldviews test for EM

    In the case in view, Evo Mat, we are dealing with a worldview, but the same logic applies. Here, as 49 etc summarise, the point is that EM asserts that all of the world we experience as we live is the product of chance plus necessity acting on essentially physical objects [atoms and related particles in the end]. So, we see the cascade of evolutionary explanations from cosmogenesis, through planetary origin, through chem evo through abiogenesis, on to macroevolution and finally socio-cultural evolution, then voila, us here int his forum.

    Now, too, routinely, EM thinkers discredit their opponents as having their thoughts and conclusions shaped not by logic or truth, but by the dynamics of the above listed evolutions. Freud, Marx, Skinner, Crick and many others can be given as illustrations in point. But that knife cuts both ways, and it immediately brings their own thoughts into self-reference and inconsistency. Further, as Plantinga, Lewis, Willard, and others all the way back to Plato etc point out, this is a property of not just the particular cases, but is a general one: such thinkers argue that EM and other forms of naturalism end up unable to account for mind relative to the dynamics of chance and necessity, leading to dynamical inadequacy and incoherence, thence to self-referential incoherence given the subject at stake.

    In short, the issue is that relative to its own proposed dynamics of origin and development of the cosmos from hydrogen to humans, EM saws off the branch on which it sits. For, as C S Lewis was fond of pointing out, such a position is arrived at by . . . THINKING.

    In that context, the persistent attempt to invoke magic – aka, “emergent properties” that are radically different from those of the constituent parts and their interactions, or the consistent changing of subject [which diverts attention and may serve to cloud the atmosphere through use of loaded language], or to alter the argument into a different one all point to the compelling force of the argument as it stands. For instance, let us consider . . .

  190. NOTE: Mod Piled . . . and a try to fix it by shortening gets nowhere.

    Okay, a quickie summary on key points.

    1] reductio: this works by the main form of deduction, implication. Namely P -> Q, Not-Q, so Not P. And, where Q is self contradictory or cuts across a known truth, it is false. EM, as shoewn above is arguabley even compellingly rself-referentially inconsistent by virtue of including the origin of the mind it must use to argue to its conclusions, and failing to provide an adequate mecanism for mind.

    2] Cases in point: as 49 and onward links show, EM thinkers routinely run into this roadblock once we extend their pattern of dismissive thought on their opponents to their own thinking. For instance, if all is nothing but conditioning, that includes the EM thinker, such as Marx or Skinner etc.

    3] Stating vs affirming propositions; DK in 185 misfires by conflating two very different things. To state is not to affirm,a nd to affirm is to claim that a proposition has a certain truth value, namely 1 or T. Affirming adds a lot to what one is saying, as any examination of propositional calculus will underscore; this is of course the foundation-stone of Digital Electronics, through Boolean Algebra.

    4] Elephant hur
    ling

    a

    g

    ain: above there was a remark to the effectt hat Google searches turn out so many hits on Plantinga etc. But of course unless these go further than the sort of misfires already dissected above, on emergentism [i.e magic], distractors or misrepresentations that are knocked over, this multiplication of errors only underscores the point made since Plato against naturalistic reductionism.

    GEM of TKI

  191. Phinehas #186

    This is becoming a sideshow.

    I disagree. It looks to me more like the main event.

    Given that the distinguished philosopher Alvin Plantinga (see my post #123) has made a similar Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism and that his argument is based only on the claim that naturalism gives us a low probability of having reliable cognitve faculties, your argument, being 100% conclusive, looks like a major breakthrough.
    I didn’t appreciate your achievement until you said that your argument was a reductio ad absurdum (post #179). You may remember that I asked (but you didn’t answer):

    I am not familiar with the rules pertaining to a reductio ad absurdum argument. Are there special rules above and beyond the properties I cited above?

    It then dawned on me that the reduction to absurdity might be the key to your breakthrough. If correct, please identify the original premise in your argument that you have chosen to expose as flawed and identify as well the absurd conclusion that obtains when that flawed premise is developed logically.

    I note however, that the above does not state that any deductive argument whose intent is to move logically from one proposition through a series of steps in order to demonstrate self-referential incoherence must only and always be stated as a single syllogism. To make such a restriction is arbitrary and absurd. It would be like saying that a mathematical proof starting at any arbitrary axiom can only ever have one step in it. I feel rather silly even having to explain this, so I really hope we can move past arguing about arguing in order to address the issue on the table.

    I have now learned that I accomplished nothing by asking for a three-term syllogism and I am happy to have you rely on your original five-point argument. Just identify for me the flawed premise and the absurd conclusion. And inform me about special logical rules if you employed any.

    On the contrary. I would be absolutely thrilled to have you challenge a premise. You seem to be operating under the mistaken impression that when you change a premise, you have somehow challenged it.

    I would be delighted to thrill you, Phinehas, especially after all the distress I seem to have caused you by being such a poor student. Please explain the criteria I must meet to challenge a premise (as opposed to changing it). Your kindness would save us time and might spare me from further embarrasment for not meeting your expectations.

    (There was another question that you didn’t answer. It was the last sentence of my post #183, about the unsupported assertion you spoke of in your post #179.)

  192. DK: Given that the distinguished philosopher Alvin Plantinga (see my post #123) has made a similar Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism and that his argument is based only on the claim that naturalism gives us a low probability of having reliable cognitve faculties, your argument, being 100% conclusive, looks like a major breakthrough.

    From the original summarization, which DK is so intent on ignoring:

    IV. There is no warrant for believing that chance plus necessity will result in accurate thinking patterns that lead to truth.

    I will let discerning readers judge for themselves. Is this summarization not entirely consistent with Plantinga’s findings, since a low probability could not be said to give a warrant for believing that chance plus necessity will result in accurate thinking patterns that lead to truth? But DK is more interested in smoke screens.

    Or when I broke the argument down to syllogisms for DK’s sake:

    Therefore, thought cannot be trusted to discern an ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience.

    Have I said anything more than what follows from Plantinga? So what is DK going on about?

    I disagree. It looks to me more like the main event.

    Again, the discerning reader should note that DK certainly seems inclined to make this the main event. Why is he so intent on not addressing the original argument KF posted in #49? Or my summarization in #159?

    If correct, please identify the original premise in your argument that you have chosen to expose as flawed and identify as well the absurd conclusion that obtains when that flawed premise is developed logically.

    The original flawed premise has been clearly stated on numerous occasions. Does the discerning reader find any difficulty at all in identifying it as:

    KF @ #49 “materialism . . . argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature.”

    P @ #159 “I. Materialists believe that everything is physical.”

    P @ #174 “Nothing exists that has an immaterial component.”

    One wonders why DK struggles in this regard. One also wonders that, given the wealth of posts consistently pointing out the incoherence, DK appears to not even know what is being claimed.

    KF @ #63 “Can evolutionary materialism, relative to its premises, properly warrant the credibility of our minds and of morals as a particularly important function of mind? If not, does that not make it inherently self-referentially inconsistent and thus irrational?”

    P @ #159 “V. Materialistic beliefs about thought are self-referentially incoherent since following them to their logical conclusion brings into question the reliability of thought itself.”

    P @ #174 “Therefore, thought cannot be trusted to discern an ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience.”

    The discerning reader may also ask themselves who in this discussion has remained consistent and who has wandered everywhere and anywhere? Only a moment ago, DK was a champion of perception-oriented truth. Evidently finding no leverage in that regard, or having no answers for pointed questions, he seems to be no longer interested in that tact. Where will he go next? Who knows? If I had to guess, I’d say he’ll probably nitpick about how to argue, the difference between incoherence and absurdity, or some other distraction. Or maybe he’ll complain that he doesn’t understand the difference between changing and challenging a point. Based on past experience, however, what he won’t do is address the points that have already been clearly laid out.

    So that we may get past one of the more recent nitpicks (though I suspect DK will always manage to find more, so long as they keep him from having to address the main issues):

    (There was another question that you didn’t answer. It was the last sentence of my post #183, about the unsupported assertion you spoke of in your post #179.)

    I was referring to this assertion: “Flawed premise. OK up to “ability,” but then it gets off track with notions of a transcendent reality.” I did not realize initially that DK made an attempt later in his post to support the assertion, though I acknowledged it later. I rescind the statement that it was unsupported. It was only poorly supported and then apparently abandoned, like so many other bunny trails that DK seems intent on leading us down.

    And one last question for the discerning reader: why does DK seem intent on ignoring KF’s posts? Could it be that DK suspects that KF, preeminently more qualified than me in formal logic, would not provide as many opportunities for nitpicking? But if DK is confident in the truth of his position, why would he only be interested in nitpicking?

  193. All (esp P & DK):

    (First, pardon the multiposts; I now have a lashup Acer 64 MB that is working . . . while we wait for Tosh)

    It seems that the net result of the discussion is clear to the discerning onlooker; namely, the challenge and objection to evolutionary materialism as the purported foundation of a properly “scientific” worldview, that it is inescapably self-referentially dynamically and logically incoherent (thus, self-defeating), plainly stands.

    But, EM thinkers are not used to seeing that, and find it hard indeed to see the point of the challenge, even as they find it ever so hard to respond tot he actual challenge. But, it is useful to summarise.

    Here, again is my formulation, as excerpted in 49, with enumeration by alphabetical characters and a couple of clarifying notes in sq brackets:

    [a] materialism . . . argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature. Therefore, [b] all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of chance.

    But [c] human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. Thus, [d] what we subjectively experience as “thoughts” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as unintended by-products of the natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains. (These forces are viewed as ultimately physical [i.e. Physicalist reductionism], but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance [“nature”] and psycho-social conditioning [“nurture”], within the framework of human culture [i.e. Socio-cultural relativism in thought].)

    Therefore, [e] if materialism is true, the “thoughts” we have and the “conclusions” we reach, without residue, are produced and controlled by forces that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or validity. Of course, [f] the conclusions of such arguments may still happen to be true, by lucky coincidence — but [g] we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” them [i.e. Certitude is a perception not a reality]. And, if our materialist friends then say: [h, an objection] “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must note that [i, a counter to h] to demonstrate that such tests provide empirical support to their theories requires the use of the very process of reasoning which they have discredited!

    Thus, [j, a conclusion entailed by the chain of implications a – i above] evolutionary materialism reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, [k] , issue of self referential incoherence] immediately, that includes “Materialism.” For instance, Marxists commonly deride opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismiss qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? And, should we not simply ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is simply another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze?

    In the end, [l, bottom-line] materialism is based on self-defeating logic, and only survives because people often fail (or, sometimes, refuse) to think through just what their beliefs really mean.

    As a further consequence, [m, key applications] materialism can have no basis, other than arbitrary or whimsical choice and balances of power in the community, for determining what is to be accepted as True or False, Good or Evil. So, Morality, Truth, Meaning, and, at length, Man, are dead.

    –> a and b simply summarise the EM thesis, Chance + Necessity acting on material objects –> Cosmos, from hydrogen to humans.

    –> c to e applies this to the world of human thought, considered as a phenomenon in the phycicalist model of the universe; inferring that perceived deliverances of the mind are on EM premises dynamically driven by non-mental forces; i.e. Mind is at most an emergent epiphenomenon of the underlying “real” forces and events in our neurons, as Crick said.

    –> f and g draw out that EM thinkers thus have lost control on the credibility of the deliverances of mind, as they now have undermined warrant in general, at least relative to rational grounds for conclusions and beliefs, even empirically anchored ones, i.e the stuff of science and common-sense “facts.” [Cf. The examples in point under k; also, d alludes to Crick and a many others in psychology and the social sciences or even philosophy. Plantinga draws it out in just one of many ways that we can see this; i.e the conclusions are much bigger than Plantinga, though IMHCO, he is right too.]

    –> j – l state the basic conclusion, and M applies it to characteristic challenges of modernity and ultra- [aka, “post-”] modernity.

    Observe, dear reader, that over 100 posts later, EM thinkers in and around UD have yet to provide a sound objection. Rabbit trails [less politely, red herrings] and misperceptions [i.e probably inadvertent strawman arguments] don’t count. Nor does appeal to “emergence” absent an explanation – as my Russian mentors on systems thinking loved to put it – of properties, forces, interactions and dynamics, amount to more than an appeal to magic.

    So then DK or any other EM thinker, if the above is in error, kindly let us know precisely where and why.

    GEM of TKI

  194. PS: Again! Tighter and tighter, Prof H

  195. Phinehas #192

    DK: Given that the distinguished philosopher Alvin Plantinga (see my post #123) has made a similar Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism and that his argument is based only on the claim that naturalism gives us a low probability of having reliable cognitve faculties, your argument, being 100% conclusive, looks like a major breakthrough.

    From the original summarization, which DK is so intent on ignoring:
    IV. There is no warrant for believing that chance plus necessity will result in accurate thinking patterns that lead to truth.
    I will let discerning readers judge for themselves. Is this summarization not entirely consistent with Plantinga’s findings, since a low probability could not be said to give a warrant for believing that chance plus necessity will result in accurate thinking patterns that lead to truth? But DK is more interested in smoke screens.
    Or when I broke the argument down to syllogisms for DK’s sake:
    Therefore, thought cannot be trusted to discern an ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience.
    Have I said anything more than what follows from Plantinga? So what is DK going on about?
    The issue, as I see it, is not whether both conclusions have the same wording, the issue is whether your conclusion, which you claim inevitably follows from tautological premises, has the same weakness as Plantinga’s. For, if one of Plantinga’s premises is not tautological, (being probabilistic and synthetic, rather than analytic) then his conclusion lacks the force of yours. A synthetic proposition, being based on empirical evidence, is always at the mercy of the evidence. So, in the case of Plantinga’s argument, because a probabilistic premise is not logically binding, it is not unreasonable to withhold judgment on accepting his conclusion awaiting further evidence. And that is the tack (not “tact,” by the way) that I take. Plantinga’s premise lacks warrant for producing an indubitable and compelling conclusion.

    But you are claiming that your argument ineluctably proves your conclusion. And what is your conclusion? Is it statement IV above? If so, what is the function of statement V in your post #159? What you call “nitpicking” is my effort to obtain a purchase on your argument. Since you are confident in your argument, surely you would not want it to look incoherent or ambiguous or circular.

    Only a moment ago, DK was a champion of perception-oriented truth. Evidently finding no leverage in that regard, or having no answers for pointed questions, he seems to be no longer interested in that tact. Where will he go next?

    I beg your patience, Phinehas, and ask that you not be too hasty in condemning me, although I appreciate that you may be weary of this conversation. I have not lost interest in the topic and will return to it in due course. First I want to be sure I understand your argument above so I can try to refute it on logical grounds. I think it’s in our mutual interest to try to keep our discussion focused. You have been right to admonish me to keep on topic.

    And one last question for the discerning reader: why does DK seem intent on ignoring KF’s posts? Could it be that DK suspects that KF, preeminently more qualified than me in formal logic, would not provide as many opportunities for nitpicking? But if DK is confident in the truth of his position, why would he only be interested in nitpicking?

    I haven’t tried to respond to kf’s eloquent posts (including the three large new ones, #188-190) because I find you to be such a formidable opponent. I feel that you may have me on the ropes and I may soon have to throw in the towel. Having two of you in the ring is more than I can handle. So I apologize for doing the best I can within my limitations and beg for your understanding as I soldier on. I am confident that you are entirely capable of defending a position that you share with kf. If I fail to answer you in a satisfactory way, doesn’t it become moot whether I have specifically answered kf? And if at any time either of you find continuing this discussion onerous, you can simply declare victory and walk away.

    And kf, I directly ask for your patience and understanding also.

  196. Damn it, screwed up the blockquote again. It looked OK in the preview. Let me try to fix it. If I fail, my response begins with the words, “The issue, as I see it…”

    Phinehas #192:

    DK: Given that the distinguished philosopher Alvin Plantinga (see my post #123) has made a similar Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism and that his argument is based only on the claim that naturalism gives us a low probability of having reliable cognitve faculties, your argument, being 100% conclusive, looks like a major breakthrough.

    From the original summarization, which DK is so intent on ignoring:
    IV. There is no warrant for believing that chance plus necessity will result in accurate thinking patterns that lead to truth.
    I will let discerning readers judge for themselves. Is this summarization not entirely consistent with Plantinga’s findings, since a low probability could not be said to give a warrant for believing that chance plus necessity will result in accurate thinking patterns that lead to truth? But DK is more interested in smoke screens.
    Or when I broke the argument down to syllogisms for DK’s sake:
    Therefore, thought cannot be trusted to discern an ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience.
    Have I said anything more than what follows from Plantinga? So what is DK going on about?

    The issue, as I see it, is not whether both conclusions have the same wording, the issue is whether your conclusion, which you claim inevitably follows from tautological premises, has the same weakness as Plantinga’s. For, if one of Plantinga’s premises is not tautological, (being probabilistic and synthetic, rather than analytic) then his conclusion lacks the force of yours. A synthetic proposition, being based on empirical evidence, is always at the mercy of the evidence. So, in the case of Plantinga’s argument, because a probabilistic premise is not logically binding, it is not unreasonable to withhold judgment on accepting his conclusion awaiting further evidence. And that is the tack (not “tact,” by the way) that I take. Plantinga’s premise lacks warrant for producing an indubitable and compelling conclusion.

    But you are claiming that your argument ineluctably proves your conclusion. And what is your conclusion? Is it statement IV above? If so, what is the function of statement V in your post #159? What you call “nitpicking” is my effort to obtain a purchase on your argument. Since you are confident in your argument, surely you would not want it to look incoherent or ambiguous or circular.

    Only a moment ago, DK was a champion of perception-oriented truth. Evidently finding no leverage in that regard, or having no answers for pointed questions, he seems to be no longer interested in that tact. Where will he go next?

    I beg your patience, Phinehas, and ask that you not be too hasty in condemning me, although I appreciate that you may be weary of this conversation. I have not lost interest in the topic and will return to it in due course. First I want to be sure I understand your argument above so I can try to refute it on logical grounds. I think it’s in our mutual interest to try to keep our discussion focused. You have been right to admonish me to keep on topic.

    And one last question for the discerning reader: why does DK seem intent on ignoring KF’s posts? Could it be that DK suspects that KF, preeminently more qualified than me in formal logic, would not provide as many opportunities for nitpicking? But if DK is confident in the truth of his position, why would he only be interested in nitpicking?

    I haven’t tried to respond to kf’s eloquent posts (including the three large new ones, #188-190) because I find you to be such a formidable opponent. I feel that you may have me on the ropes and I may soon have to throw in the towel. Having two of you in the ring is more than I can handle. So I apologize for doing the best I can within my limitations and beg for your understanding as I soldier on. I am confident that you are entirely capable of defending a position that you share with kf. If I fail to answer you in a satisfactory way, doesn’t it become moot whether I have specifically answered kf? And if at any time either of you find continuing this discussion onerous, you can simply declare victory and walk away.

  197. DK: The issue, as I see it, is not whether both conclusions have the same wording, the issue is whether your conclusion, which you claim inevitably follows from tautological premises, has the same weakness as Plantinga’s.

    Tautological? What are you talking about? I certainly made no claim that my premises were tautological. Are you making that claim? Please show how this is the case.

    And if can save us another rabbit trail, I’m happy to stipulate that what I’ve presented has he same “weakness” as Plantinga’s argument.

    So, in the case of Plantinga’s argument, because a probabilistic premise is not logically binding, it is not unreasonable to withhold judgment on accepting his conclusion awaiting further evidence.

    However, I could not disagree more strongly with this. It is indeed both unreasonable and irrational to deliberately choose to believe a low probability proposition over a higher probability proposition. To do such a thing reveals faith-based commitments over scientific ones. The current evidence demonstrates that if one accepts the materialist view, there is a low probability that any sort of certitude about anything whatsoever is other than an illusion. Or, as KF pointed out (once again) @ #193:

    KF: Therefore, [e] if materialism is true, the “thoughts” we have and the “conclusions” we reach, without residue, are produced and controlled by forces that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or validity. Of course, [f] the conclusions of such arguments may still happen to be true, by lucky coincidence — but [g] we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” them [i.e. Certitude is a perception not a reality]. And, if our materialist friends then say: [h, an objection] “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must note that [i, a counter to h] to demonstrate that such tests provide empirical support to their theories requires the use of the very process of reasoning which they have discredited!

    In light of this, “awaiting further evidence” is an exercise in faith and hope, not logic. And such an exercise is unreasonable and irrational. In other words, the reductio argument has sufficiently demonstrated an end in irrationality.

    DK: And that is the tack (not “tact,” by the way) that I take.

    Yeah, I never was much of a sailor. I’m sure KF wouldn’t have made the same mistake, thus depriving you of such significant victories, which is why I’m glad I wasn’t drinking coffee when I read this:

    I haven’t tried to respond to kf’s eloquent posts (including the three large new ones, #188-190) because I find you to be such a formidable opponent.

    Formidable? While allowing you to score such outright winners? How do you figure? :P

  198. P & DK (and onlookers):

    By now it should be plain that EM thought has a major challenge, through self reference, and through evident lack of dynamical capacity to credibly get to the generally reliable minds we need to think even EM thoughts. Thus, the redefining of science – a move in philosophy, not science, BTW so if one lives by phil one must be willing to die by phil too – in terms of forces, substances, processes etc that are acceptable to EM thinkers, is plainly a highly questionable move. Then, when one also sees that historically much of modern science was developed by thinkers within the Western, Judaeo-Christian theist paradigm, that clinches the matter on the imposition of EM as a criterion of doing science. It is neither necessary nor credible.

    Then, on looking back at he main issue raised at the head of this thread, originally in jest but with a serious edge to it, we see Darwin’s remark:

    “One cannot look at this Universe with all living productions & man without believing that all has been intelligently designed; yet when I look to each individual organism, I can see no evidence of this. For, I am not prepared to admit that God designed the feathers in the tail of the rock-pigeon to vary in a highly peculiar manner in order that man might select such variations & make a Fan-tail; & if this be not admitted (I know it would be admitted by many persons), then I cannot see design in the variations of structure in animals in a state of nature,—those variations which were useful to the animal being preserved & those useless or injurious being destroyed.” [JK cite]

    Isn’t it interesting that CD here used an example of microevolution at best to counter a general observation on the best explanation for the plain intricate fine-tuned, functional, sophisticated structures and systems we see in the world of living forms? Of course, he had the excuse that he did not know about the intricacies of the functionally specific, complex information systems at the heart of life forms, but we have not got that excuse.

    Of even more interest is his immediate inference to a candidate for the identity of the designer, and his response of incredulity in the face of evidence of intelligent, even artistic design. Could this be a case of selective hyper-skepticism in play, relative to a priori worldview commitments, and providing a perceived – but in fact objectively unwarranted – sense of warrant? [In this regard, Dawkins' remarks on Darwinism making it possible to be “an intellectually fulfilled atheist” may have more of a punch than Mr Dawkins realised, but not in the direction he thinks.]

    Certainly, it should have been plain even in Darwin’s day, that there are many finely-tuned, co-adapted complex features in life forms that cry out design. His struggles with the eye for instance and the current idea that eyes may have evolved up to dozens of times, are tellingly suggestive that there is an underlying wish to find an alternative to design for reasons that seem to be rooted far more in phil than in science proper.

    Time for a rethink, I think . . .

    GEM of TKI

  199. Phinehas #197:

    DK: T”he issue, as I see it, is not whether both conclusions have the same wording, the issue is whether your conclusion, which you claim inevitably follows from tautological premises, has the same weakness as Plantinga’s.”

    Tautological? What are you talking about? I certainly made no claim that my premises were tautological. Are you making that claim? Please show how this is the case.

    See Phinehas #186 (my emphasis):

    DK: A deductive argument consists of premises and a conclusion.
    A deductive argument must satisfy two conditions: (1) the premises must all be true, and (2) the argument must be valid. If those conditions are satisfied, the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises.
    No valid deductive argument can guarantee the truth of its premises unless its premises are tautologies.
    You will advise me if you disagree with any of the above.

    This is becoming a sideshow. A cynical person might suspect that it is becoming so because you feel more comfortable arguing about arguing than addressing the original argument on points. Not being quite that cynical, I will make another attempt. No, I don’t disagree with any of the above. Why would I? I note however, that the above does not state that any deductive argument whose intent is to move logically from one proposition through a series of steps in order to demonstrate self-referential incoherence must only and always be stated as a single syllogism. To make such a restriction is arbitrary and absurd. It would be like saying that a mathematical proof starting at any arbitrary axiom can only ever have one step in it. I feel rather silly even having to explain this, so I really hope we can move past arguing about arguing in order to address the issue on the table.

    Back to Phinehas #197:

    And if can save us another rabbit trail, I’m happy to stipulate that what I’ve presented has he same “weakness” as Plantinga’s argument.

    Whatever you prefer.

    “So, in the case of Plantinga’s argument, because a probabilistic premise is not logically binding, it is not unreasonable to withhold judgment on accepting his conclusion awaiting further evidence.”
    However, I could not disagree more strongly with this. It is indeed both unreasonable and irrational to deliberately choose to believe a low probability proposition over a higher probability proposition. To do such a thing reveals faith-based commitments over scientific ones. The current evidence demonstrates that if one accepts the materialist view, there is a low probability that any sort of certitude about anything whatsoever is other than an illusion. Or, as KF pointed out (once again) @ #193:
    KF: Therefore, [e] if materialism is true, the “thoughts” we have and the “conclusions” we reach, without residue, are produced and controlled by forces that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or validity. Of course, [f] the conclusions of such arguments may still happen to be true, by lucky coincidence — but [g] we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” them [i.e. Certitude is a perception not a reality]. And, if our materialist friends then say: [h, an objection] “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must note that [i, a counter to h] to demonstrate that such tests provide empirical support to their theories requires the use of the very process of reasoning which they have discredited!
    In light of this, “awaiting further evidence” is an exercise in faith and hope, not logic. And such an exercise is unreasonable and irrational. In other words, the reductio argument has sufficiently demonstrated an end in irrationality.

    There are several problems with your response.

    1. To talk about a “low probability” versus a “high probability” requires some quantitation. Note that on occasions Plantinga has fudged this issue, calling the probability of materialism producing grounded beliefs “inscrutable.” If Plantinga doesn’t know the probability he is claiming, it is difficult to credit your charge that it is “unreasonable and irrational” to doubt his conclusion from that claim. If you know of some numerical basis for his probability claim, please provide it.

    2. “The current evidence demonstrates that if one accepts the materialist view, there is a low probability that any sort of certitude about anything whatsoever is other than an illusion.” You have evidence? Actual empirical evidence? Lay it on me, Brother.

    3. kf’s quote applies only if the argument (Plantinga, kf, P) has traction.

    So, let’s cut to the chase and look at one of several formulations of the claim that you and kf have presented in this thread:

    P @ #159 “V. Materialistic beliefs about thought are self-referentially incoherent since following them to their logical conclusion brings into question the reliability of thought itself.”

    For materialistic beliefs to be “self-referentially incoherent” requires that those beliefs be incoherent within the materialistic frame of reference. Your argument ignores the materialistic basis for grounding belief and unconsciously assumes that your theistic basis for grounding belief applies. Of course that misapplication produces dissonance and incoherence. And it begs the question by assuming what it sets out to prove.

    On the contrary, the materialist does not need an a priori warrant for trusting his beliefs. His warrant is experience and learning, which occur when the mind encounters the external world. If I touch a flame, I get burned. That is all the grounding I need for believing that flames can burn me. And so on ad infinitum. All of this occurs independently of any theory of origins. Indeed, by this method of testing our beliefs we learn much, perhaps most, of what we need to know before we encounter Darwin (or theistic belief).

    In this regard, it would enhance my understanding of the theistic position of you would explain how it warrants your beliefs. Which reminds me of the quip: “Does Plantinga tell his Catholic students at the University of Notre Dame that their belief in papal infallibility is not properly grounded?”

    Formidable? While allowing you to score such outright winners? How do you figure?

    Small potatoes, Phinehas.

    (I will be traveling tomorrow and Monday and may not be able to get back to you and kf before Tuesday.)

  200. No valid deductive argument can guarantee the truth of its premises unless its premises are tautologies.

    *sigh* Which only goes to show that posting something isn’t the same as understanding it. Perhaps the following from the American Heritage Dictionary will help you understand what the above is saying.

    Logic An empty or vacuous statement composed of simpler statements in a fashion that makes it logically true whether the simpler statements are factually true or false; for example, the statement Either it will rain tomorrow or it will not rain tomorrow.

    Given the above, why would I claim my premises were tautological? You do understand that having a tautology as a premise is not a good thing, don’t you? The point of a deductive argument isn’t to guarantee the truth of its premises in the first place.

    So again, are you claiming that one or all of my premises are tautological of the form, either it will rain tomorrow or it will not rain tomorrow (and if so, please demonstrate how this is the case), or do you just not know what you are talking about?

    1. To talk about a “low probability” versus a “high probability” requires some quantitation.

    No. It doesn’t. (See how easy assertions are?)

    You have evidence?

    Since you implied that you were “awaiting further evidence” [that would overturn Plantinga's conclusion] (emphasis mine) it would appear that you have evidence. Of course, you also implied that you are hoping for more evidence to make the materialistic case, which demonstrates an admirable amount of faith.

    3. kf’s quote applies only if the argument (Plantinga, kf, P) has traction.

    And you are prepared to demonstrate that it doesn’t? Or are you simply trying to dismiss it with a wave of the hand and hope no one notices?

    For materialistic beliefs to be “self-referentially incoherent” requires that those beliefs be incoherent within the materialistic frame of reference. Your argument ignores the materialistic basis for grounding belief and unconsciously assumes that your theistic basis for grounding belief applies.

    Um…no it doesn’t. And not it doesn’t. Gotta love assertions.

    On the contrary, the materialist does not need an a priori warrant for trusting his beliefs.

    You got my hopes up there for a moment. I thought you were finally going to address the pointed questions I asked earlier about your perception-oriented approach to truth. Instead, you dodged yet once again. Oh well. Old habits are hard to break.

  201. Oops, the one quote above should have said:

    Tautology

    Logic An empty or vacuous statement composed of simpler statements in a fashion that makes it logically true whether the simpler statements are factually true or false; for example, the statement Either it will rain tomorrow or it will not rain tomorrow.

  202. P, DK and co:

    It is now clear — sadly so — from the persistent resort to selectively hyper-skeptical dismissals rather than serious argument on the EM side, that there will be no serious addressing of the chain of inference laid out from 49 on, and most recently in 193 [Sep 7]. So, astute onlookers will see for themselves where the true balance of the case on the merits lies.

    However, a few observations will be helpful; here’s hoping on the m-o-d-p-i-l-e.

    1] Sound, valid, tautological?

    Deductive arguments whose conclusions follow logically from their premises arevalid. If the premises are true as well, the arguments are then sound. Tautologies are necessarily true, i.e they state equivalencies or the like (which means they are not always useless BTW), or the sort of “A or not-A” argument P just cited – which can sometimes be very useful in a Boolean Algebra, logic as algebra type exercise.

    Most relevant to our case, is the implication argument, of form P —> Q, not-Q so not-P. Here, as [A AND not-A] –> “anything”, if Q is a contradiction within itself or contradicts known truth, then we have reason to infer that not-Q is so, so not-P is so. EM, for many reasons and in many ways, falls afoul of this, Plantinga’s argument being just one illustration; cf. above the link to Dallas Willard for a more detailed analysis within the discussion since Plato, and especially since EM emerged as a significant contention late C19.

    2] Re-looking at 193 (for onlookers . . .)

    We can easily enough see that the issue is not with a, b or c. For, EM thinkers seek to explain all of observed reality relative to the EM thesis [EMTh]:

    EMTh: Chance + Necessity (i.e blind, non-purposeful natural forces similar to say Newtonian dynamics) + matter-energy and space-time –> all of observed reality from hydrogen to humans, which includes human mentality.

    This directly leads to the implication, [d] what we subjectively experience as “thoughts” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as unintended by-products of the natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains. (The result is traced in many ways, bringing to bear genetics, accident of socio-cultural evolution, personal history and circumstances aka “conditioning,” etc, but the underlying point of d remains.)

    Now, notice what EM thinkers often do at his stage: they use this pattern of cause-effect to explain away beliefs and claims and arguments by those they disagree with. For instance, Freudians often dismiss their “uptight” critics as subjects of over-strict potty training. Skinnerians speak about the effects of operant conditioning. Crick speaks of thoughts etc being nothing but neural networks firing off. Marxians dismiss their “bourgeois” critics as class-conditioned. And the like. But, they only very rarely admit that the knife cuts both ways and so equally undercuts their own belief systems by the force of the same dynamics they cite, i.e if their objections undercut the arguments of their critics, then they MUST be self-undercutting too.

    The rest of the case in 49 and 193 etc, follows immediately. Thence, through point 1 just above, we are looking at not-Q, so not-P. (Note to DK: Plantinga has not entered the issue to this point!)

    . . .

  203. 3] Plantinga etc:

    What Plantinga did was to analyse origins of thought, and along the way to use a Bayesian analysis of the likelihood of a reliable mind emerging from EM-driven proposed dynamics of human [etc] origins. His core observation, as excerpted above in 127, point 2 (the elaboration is well worth the read . . . go to 127 for the link . . . . ):

    . . . evolution is interested (so to speak) only in adaptive behavior, not in true belief. Natural selection doesn’t care what you believe; it is interested only in how you behave. It selects for certain kinds of behavior, those that enhance fitness, which is a measure of the chances that one’s genes are widely represented in the next and subsequent generations . . . But then the fact that we have evolved guarantees at most that we behave in certain ways–ways that contribute to our (or our ancestors’) surviving and reproducing in the environment in which we have developed . . . there are many belief-desire combinations that will lead to the adaptive action; in many of these combinations, the beliefs are false.

    In short, belief and thought are transparent to EM, and are not subject to the crucial component of its “design” mechanism, natural selection. (The other main design mechanism, RM, is even more challenged to get to the obviously large quantum of functionally specific, complex information required relative to the configuration space of DNA chains of length longer than about 250 – 1,000 elements, but we need not go into that here; cf. My always linked through my handle.)

    Therefore, we have no grounding for the reliability of mentality [including of course, morality] relative to EM premises, and the probability of reliable thought and belief mechanisms forming on EM premises is low or at best inscrutable [i.e. Insufficient data to get there].

    But EM thinkers have to rely on just this suspect mechanism to get to their EM beliefs, at least if this is rationally based; thence, snap! The bruised reed breaks: self-reference, dynamical incoherence, thence logical incoherence. Not-Q, so not-P..

    4] Dallas Willard on the issue:

    In the DW article linked at 180, we find an interesting set of issues. First, on the challenge faced by a system that isolates beliefs and mentality in general form the “real” — i.e “physical” — world:

    We . . . want to know if our belief is “true,” “correct,” “right.” [Hilary] Putnam asks: “Why should we expend our mental energy in convincing ourselves that we aren’t thinkers, that our thoughts aren’t really about anything, noumenal or phenomenal, that there is no sense in which any thought is right or wrong (including the thought that no thought is right or wrong) beyond being the verdict of the moment , and so on? This is a self-refuting enterprise if there ever was one!” . . . .

    This sort of radical relativism anchored in evolutionary materialist worldviews, is all too common, so it is worth pausing to note on its failings first. But, more interestingly, DW goes on to note that:

    . . .

  204. Naturalism [the broader worldview currently largely anchored to EM thought] staggers back and forth between physicalism (materialism) as a general ontology and first philosophy, and outright physics-ism or scientism . . . . there is no way of identifying and accessing the “successful science” which is proposed as defining Naturalism. At most you get “science now,” which is really only “some scientist(s) now.” And certainly no science (including psychology) that was not Naturalistic in some strongly physicalistic or at least Empiricist sense would be accepted as “successful” by those inclined to Naturalism. Then we are back in the circle: Naturalism in terms of science–but, of course, naturalistic science . . . .

    In short, contemporary naturalism, the wider project of EM, runs in circles of question-begging as it seeks to root itself in “science.”

    When we turn to the attempt to anchor mind in physical phenomena [the reductionist/emergent properties theme] we see further problems, aptly exemplified on the first part in Crick’s neural networks nothing buttery, and on the second in the resort to emergence we saw in this blog and in attempts to dismiss Plantinga as not addressing the emergent properties of the material world on EM views:

    . . . no [physical] property or combination of properties constitutes a representation of anything, or qualifies their bearer as being of or about anything. The properties of those properties and combinations thereof are not the same as the properties of representations (ideas, thoughts, propositions, beliefs, statements). If this is correct, and if the narrower Naturalism admits only these properties, then there are no representations in the world of the narrower Naturalism. Truth then disappears from that world, because in it no subject matter is represented; and hence it can never happen that something “is as it is represented or thought to be.” With truth, knowledge also disappears . . . . Note that my claim is that such physical properties never constitute a representation. I say nothing here about representation (mental qualities) not emerging from the physical properties of, say, the human brain. This is not because I think they may so emerge, although some form of interaction between them and the brain surely does happen. Rather, it is because I can only regard talk of the emergence of irreducibly mental properties from the brain or the central nervous system as mere property dualism cum apologies . . . .

    So, first, the issue of reference as a phenomenon of thought: aboutness, where our mental processes point [often accurately] to processes in the external world, lacks an anchor in the properties of such physical processes, e.g. Neuronal network electrical activity. So, there is no basis for emergence of mind and for mind processes to do more than ride on top of the “real” physical ones in neural networks etc. Thence, our perception that we are thinking ABOUT the world and that we ACT into our world based on such thoughts is relative to EM views, deeply delusional.

    But that plainly includes thoughts of EM, too, and so we see that the whole process self-undermines and collapses, just as summarised in 49 etc.

    GEM of TKI.

  205. Hi KF,

    I see I was not very clear on tautologies, so thanks for the clarification.

    I should have written that having a tautology as a premise is not necessarily a good thing. But further than this, in the specific case of a reductio argument (P –> Q, not Q, so not P) it makes no sense whatsoever to use a tautological premise, since the conclusion (not P) would be automatically disqualified because you would have already guaranteed the truth of premise P by using a tautology. So, having a tautology as a premise in a reductio argument is not a good thing.

    But again, this is a sideshow.

    The only real attempt that has been made to undermine the reductio argument that has been outlined has been to attempt to define truth in terms of perception. But as was clearly demonstrated in DK’s own illustration, the concept of truth transcends perception. Even if it could be demonstrated that it does not, this too would tend to saw off the branch on which reason rests.

    At this point, I think the task for the materialist is clear: demonstrate that there is warrant for trusting that NS + RM will result in methods of thinking that accurately reflect a truth that transcends perception. Failing this, resorts to selective hyper-skepticism reveal the faith-based foundation on which materialism rests as it hopes in a reality that is at odds with science and logic.

  206. Hi P (And DK etc . . .)

    The thread still lives! And is getting even more interesting!

    The good news: it seems a Compaq Presario, DV, is on the way – my no 2 choice. The not-so-good: I am definitely consistently in the m-o-d-p-i-l-e, and can’t figure out why. But, let’s soldier on, as this thread is speaking to a key, usually not mentioned side of all this stuff we have been discussing at UD. [Y'know, stuff on what it means for us to be intelligent, and what the mind is about, and so we see at least a little bit of the underlying issues in the Lakatosian worldviews core of the current debate over paradigms, research programmes and the bests of theories and models in which we do science, as design and associated complex, co-adapted, fine-tuned, functionally specified information emerge as critical empirically well-established FACTS to be accounted for.]

    Now on a couple of key points:

    1] Tautologies again.

    If we look at the 17 [if memory serves . . . ] basic laws of Boolean Algebra [the laws of logic, so-called], we will see that they are formulated as tautologies.

    To see that, set up truth tables and assign a full set of truth values to the variables appearing in the expressions. Work through the different blocks on the LHS and RHS of the overall expression and then compare, which will result in classic “all ones” in the final result. De Morgan’s law, for instance, is a tautology, but it is nonetheless very useful in BA reduction of logical expressions; indeed one use is to turn standard expressions into all-NAND or all-NOR, very useful in terms of building logic circuits for control, as these are easier to build electronically.

    So, tautologies are not necessarily “useless.”

    2] P–> Q, not-Q so not-P

    In the real world case, P is often a composite proposition, of form A AND B AND C . . . AND K. So, we may be looking at jointly testing a set of sub-propositions. So, we are looking at a case where one may choose to say that it is because of other propositions that not-Q arises; but in this case the key connexions are DYNAMICAL, i.e we have a framework model of cause-effect chains under certain assumed boundary conditions. (That is, if we use BA to reduce the expressions, we will be using perhaps many tautologies along the way, but they do not affect the material result.)

    And, as was just summarised from DW as well as Plantinga, the root problem is that the dynamics of Em as a model are not properly able to account for the mind that is required to arrive at even the “conclusion,” EM. So it is arguably inescapably dynamically incoherent, and by virtue of the fact that it is minds we use to arrive there, self-referentially inconsistent. (Indeed, note how DW as excerpted points out hat quite often EM thinkers have argued that we are not thinkers in any recognisable sense – and the resort to mind is an epiphenomenon ends up back at the slipping in of magic into the argument; dualism kicked out he front door, only to be sneaked back in under a different name, at the back.)

    3] The only real attempt that has been made to undermine the reductio argument that has been outlined has been to attempt to define truth in terms of perception

    In general, the claim that there is nothing more to truth than what seems true to me or you — however expressed — is self-referentially incoherent. For, having tried to kick truth out the front, it has snuck it back in at the back: “IT IS TRUE that there is nothing more to truth than it seems true to you or me . . . .” The first IT IS TRUE is of course claiming that the following says of what is, that it is, and of what is not, that it is not. So, it is useless and self-referentially absurd to deny the existence of truth.

    My favourite example, courtesy Josiah Royce through Elton Trueblood, is: error exists. To deny this affirms it, and it in turn means by example that truth exists. But it is a humbling truth indeed – that we must be aware of our fallibility. But then there is also hope, for here we see how we may in fact discover some truths! So let us be humble but hopeful, honest and diligent.

    This brings us back to DK’s comment in 177:

    . . .

  207. 4] I doubt that materialists argue that there is a transcendent reality (independent of what we can perceive)

    We do not so much argue to transcendent reality as imply or assume it, as we go about learning, living and even arguing. (Indeed, if it did not exist independent of our existence as contingent creatures, we would not be here to discuss it – before us, there was something else that plainly existed independent of us and that is foundational to our existence. That extends to the observed universe of contingent entities and processes that credibly traces to ~ 13.7 BYA, thence the issue of an underlying necessary being as the sufficient reasonable basis for the existence of such a contingent cosmos as we observe. And a powerful and intelligent agent intending to create a cosmos fine-tuned for life as we know it, then fill it by whatever biogenetic and diversification processes used, is a credible candidate for that necessary being.)

    In short, what is, is. We may be in error as we think and talk about it, but that is on the way to learning from what it is not, what it is. Indeed, as already drawn out, that undeniable fact of error immediately implies that, however provisionally and partially, we are capable of asserting of what is, that it is, and of what is not, that it is not.

    Truth exists, and is for us partly knowable.

    So, the intellectual duties outlined by Locke as cited above, at 79 [cf. 76 – 77], and 188 . So also, if EM thought has difficulty accepting such a fundamental datum, as it sits uncomfortably with their premises [cf here Plantinga, Willard, etc!] then that speaks all the more eloquently to why EM is incoherent.

    That brings us back to:

    5] the task for the materialist is clear: demonstrate that there is warrant for trusting that NS + RM will result in methods of thinking that [often enough to be trustworthy] accurately reflect a truth that transcends perception. Failing this, resorts to selective hyper-skepticism reveal the faith-based foundation on which materialism rests as it hopes in a reality that is at odds with science and logic.

    Now, of course I contend that all worldviews in the end — on pain of unattainable infinite regress — rely on unproved, unprovable presuppositions that are their first plausibles. In short, all worldviews have faith-points.

    The real issue is to assess the credibility of the faith points of live option worldviews, across comparative difficulties: factual adequacy, coherence [dynamical and logical], and explanatory elegance vs ad hocness or simplisticness. So far, EM is failing badly on the four big bangs it must address: origin of the fine-tuned cosmos, origin of life, origin of body-plan level biodiversity, origin of mind [and morality as a key function of mind].

    So while there may well be many clinging to an ever diminishing hope that EM will yet come through with a solution it its troubles, it is plainly rational to challenge and reject EM on grounds as just discussed. So, why then is there an institutional power move – even in declaratively Christian institutions such as Baylor – to impose EM in the teeth of such evidence and issues?

    GEM of TKI

  208. kf, thank you for your posts #202-204. They very helpfully lay out your arguments and I will respond to each as time allows.

    However, for the moment, I would like to address the latter part of Phinehas #205 (all emphases are mine)

    The only real attempt that has been made to undermine the reductio argument that has been outlined has been to attempt to define truth in terms of perception. But as was clearly demonstrated in DK’s own illustration, the concept of truth transcends perception. Even if it could be demonstrated that it does not, this too would tend to saw off the branch on which reason rests.

    I agree completely. The “concept” of truth obviously transcends perception, inasmuch as concepts are thoughts and perceptions are not thoughts. Thus, all concepts transcend perception. (This is a tautology, by the way, as are all definitions of terms.)

    At this point, I think the task for the materialist is clear: demonstrate that there is warrant for trusting that NS + RM will result in methods of thinking that accurately reflect a truth that transcends perception.

    Here is a prime example of how lack of precision in the use of language can generate lack of precision in thinking. Asserting “the concept of truth transcends perception” is not logically equivalent to asserting that there is a subtance called “truth that transcends perception.”

    For example, “I conceive of a purple unicorn” is not logically equivalent to the assertion, “A purple unicorn exists.”

    This creates a nice seque into my promised response to Phinehas #187:

    DK: “To say that something is true is to assert that thing. Thus, to say that the proposition, “I saw you downtown last week,” is true, adds nothing substantive to Tom’s original statement. So, asserting the truth of a proposition is logically superfluous. Similarly, to say that the proposition, “Tom saw Dick downtown last week,” is false, is simply to deny that proposition.”
    This doesn’t seem very responsive.

    I asked several pointed questions, and suddenly you switch from talking about perceptions to talking about propositions. I’m still wondering the following about your perception -oriented concept of truth.

    1. How does Tom’s perception about Dick being downtown not make it true?

    2. If Tom were to go to court and tell a Judge that he saw Dick downtown with another woman on this particular date, how would this not meet your standard of truth, since Tom, to the best of his ability, would be giving an accurate accounting of his experience?

    3. You seem to be suggesting that Tom’s perception and experience fall short of actual truth, but if truth does not transcend perception and experience, how is this possible?

    Could you please help clear these up before jumping on to other things?

    First, let’s ty to eliminate possible ambiguity about the term “perception.” I say that, because the term is equivalent to the term “that which is perceived,” and the verb “to perceive” has several definitions. So what follows rests on the following definition of “perceive”: To become aware of directly through any of the senses, esp. to see or hear.

    Reply to question 1:

    A perception is something perceived. To say it is true or not true is to make a statement (proposition) about it. To say, “Tom had a perception,” gains nothing by elaborating, “It is true that Tom had a perception.” By the same token, to say “Tom did not have a perception,” gains no additional meaning by elaborating, “It is false that Tom had a perception.”

    We must not conflate Tom’s belief about what he saw with the fact that he saw someone. It was Tom’s belief that led him to tell Dick that he saw Dick downtown. To elaborate that it was true that Tom believed that he saw Dick downtown adds no additional meaning.

    Reply to question 2:

    When one testifies in a court of law to tell the truth, one is promising not to contradict what one believes, based on what one has knowledge of. Tom can be mistaken about whom he thought he saw and correctly testify to it, because that is what he actually believes.
    Truth in a legal sense is “what actually happened.” The aim of court proceedings is to discover what actually happened through weighing evidence. Often (maybe more often than we would hope) we fail to discover what actually happened. “What actually happened” is not a metaphysical substance that exists somewhere, although our mental habits may make it seem so.

    Reply to question 3:

    It begs the question to assume that there is a substance called “truth” that transcends perception and experience. If Tom’s belief about his downtown observation is not correct, it will remain incorrect until evidence is presented that contradicts his belief and convinces him otherwise.

    Some related observations:

    The words “correct” and “accurate” are synonyms for “true.” If one substitutes either “correctness” or “accuracy” for “truth” in propositions, it doesn’t have quite the same emotional force. To say, “I am a warrior for accuracy” lacks the force of “I am a warrior for truth.”

    If there is a substance called “truth,” is there also a substance called “falsehood” or “untruth?” Are there individual truth substances for every perception and belief in addition to or included within an overarching substance called “truth?” Where does one stop in the creation of metaphysical entities?

    William of Ockham, of the famous “razor,” denied the real existence of metaphysical universals, in opposition to Platonic idealism. Old Bill had it right.

    Indeed, it is the metaphysician’s task to prove the existence of metaphysical entities. Even if one wanted to argue otherwise, it would be impossible to prove the negative.

  209. DK: I agree completely. The “concept” of truth obviously transcends perception, inasmuch as concepts are thoughts and perceptions are not thoughts. Thus, all concepts transcend perception.

    This is not at all what I meant by truth transcending perception. However, the following comes awfully close.

    We must not conflate Tom’s belief about what he saw with the fact that he saw someone.

    The way you use the word “fact” in this concept is very similar to how I’ve been using the word “truth.” Even further, if you were to substitute “perception” for “belief” here, I’d be hard pressed to say how this sentence was not precisely what I have been saying. Can you point out to me the difference between the two? If for some reason you still prefer “belief,” I don’t think I’d have a problem reformulating the definition of truth to:

    The facts that transcend one’s beliefs.

    In the end, one believes according to what one becomes “aware of directly through [using] any of the senses” so I am not sure why “perceptions” doesn’t work just as well.

    When one testifies in a court of law to tell the truth, one is promising not to contradict what one believes, based on what one has knowledge of. Tom can be mistaken about whom he thought he saw and correctly testify to it, because that is what he actually believes.

    Indeed. Your very use of the word “mistaken” sets up a dichotomy between perceptions (or beliefs, or what one becomes aware of through the senses, or whatever you want to call it) and truth (or the actual facts). In other words, as KF pointed out:

    KF: My favourite example, courtesy Josiah Royce through Elton Trueblood, is: error exists. To deny this affirms it, and it in turn means by example that truth exists.

    But the concession you make above seems very different to your original formulation of truth as:

    DK: …a descriptive term for accurate accounting of experience (as in “I swear to give the whole truth and nothing but the truth”)?

    I hope you now see why the above is not an acceptable formulation, since as you pointed out, we should not conflate Tom’s beliefs (in giving the whole truth and nothing but to the best of his ability) with the actual facts that transcend those possibly mistaken beliefs.

    It begs the question to assume that there is a substance called “truth” that transcends perception and experience.

    Since I have never claimed there is a “substance” called truth, your question-begging accusation is pointed at a strawman. And as I have pointed out above, by making the dichotomy between beliefs and facts, or by appealing to the concept of being “mistaken,” you are in essence admitting to something called “truth” or “fact” that transcends “belief” or “perception.” Now, I haven’t made the claim that you are creating metaphysical entities by doing this. So, are you? If not, then neither am I. If so, then you are not a very good materialist. :D

    To bring this back around to the main point, I find nothing abnormal in a claim that RM + NS (assuming for the moment that it had the creative power to overcome the other three big bang hurdles — huge assumption that this is) could arrive at beliefs or perceptions. But what seems entirely improbable is that RM + NS would result in beliefs or perceptions that actually reflect fact, or truth, or whatever else you want to call that thing which we must not conflate with beliefs. The materialist has no warrant for believing that this is the case, which means EM undercuts its own beliefs regarding itself. In other words, it is incoherent.

  210. By the way, thank you very much for what I believe was an honest attempt to address the issue at hand. I hope that we can continue in this regard, choosing dialog over dismissal or distraction.

    :)

  211. Phinehas #209:
    I am pleasantly surprised to learn that we are not far apart in understanding that our beliefs about the material world must be tested against evidence (facts). I am especially relieved to learn that you do not consider “truth” to be a metaphysical entity. If those assertions are correct, we can safely move on to address your main point:

    To bring this back around to the main point, I find nothing abnormal in a claim that RM + NS (assuming for the moment that it had the creative power to overcome the other three big bang hurdles — huge assumption that this is) could arrive at beliefs or perceptions.

    An excellent point that I am grateful for, although I am curious to know what those “three big bang hurdles” are.

    But what seems entirely improbable is that RM + NS would result in beliefs or perceptions that actually reflect fact, or truth, or whatever else you want to call that thing which we must not conflate with beliefs.

    So the issue would then come down to whether it is plausible that purely natural processes could have generated mechanisms in living beings that enable those beings to correctly interract with the material world. Yes, I have rephrased your sentence; not to create a strawman, but to make a beginning towards explaining why I don’t buy it. To elaborate:

    Why does it seem improbable to you? There must be an underlying assumption that warrants your skepticism.

    If natural selection had not enabled its products to interact factually with the world, those products, including human beings, would not be here.

    The materialist has no warrant for believing that this is the case, which means EM undercuts its own beliefs regarding itself. In other words, it is incoherent.

    I disagree. As I stated in my post #199:

    On the contrary, the materialist does not need an a priori warrant for trusting his beliefs. His warrant is experience and learning, which occur when the mind encounters the external world. If I touch a flame, I get burned. That is all the grounding I need for believing that flames can burn me. And so on ad infinitum.

    I add this for your consideration: Is this not the procedure you yourself use in all of your transactions with the external world?

  212. On Plantinga’s argument.

    kairosfocus #203 and other postings on this subject:

    What Plantinga did was to analyse origins of thought, and along the way to use a Bayesian analysis of the likelihood of a reliable mind emerging from EM-driven proposed dynamics of human [etc] origins. His core observation, as excerpted above in 127, point 2 (the elaboration is well worth the read . . . go to 127 for the link . . . . ):
    . . . evolution is interested (so to speak) only in adaptive behavior, not in true belief. Natural selection doesn’t care what you believe; it is interested only in how you behave. It selects for certain kinds of behavior, those that enhance fitness, which is a measure of the chances that one’s genes are widely represented in the next and subsequent generations . . . But then the fact that we have evolved guarantees at most that we behave in certain ways–ways that contribute to our (or our ancestors’) surviving and reproducing in the environment in which we have developed . . . there are many belief-desire combinations that will lead to the adaptive action; in many of these combinations, the beliefs are false.

    In short, belief and thought are transparent to EM, and are not subject to the crucial component of its “design” mechanism, natural selection. (The other main design mechanism, RM, is even more challenged to get to the obviously large quantum of functionally specific, complex information required relative to the configuration space of DNA chains of length longer than about 250 – 1,000 elements, but we need not go into that here; cf. My always linked through my handle.)

    Therefore, we have no grounding for the reliability of mentality [including of course, morality] relative to EM premises, and the probability of reliable thought and belief mechanisms forming on EM premises is low or at best inscrutable [i.e. Insufficient data to get there].

    But EM thinkers have to rely on just this suspect mechanism to get to their EM beliefs, at least if this is rationally based; thence, snap! The bruised reed breaks: self-reference, dynamical incoherence, thence logical incoherence. Not-Q, so not-P..

    If I understand you and Phinehas, you consider Plantinga’s argument to be non-tautological. That is, it is based on a synthetic, rather than an analytic (tautological) premise. Thus, what you have quoted above must be a hypothesis; it cannot be anything else. (Making that distinction is why I called it “the main event” earlier in discussion with Phinehas.) Since the only way to test a hypothesis is to examine how it fits the data, one must first ask, “What are the data that can possibly be found to test Plantinga’s hypothesis?” He has provided none nor has be pointed to where such data may be found.

    Regarding Bayesian analysis especially: Is it not a way of analyzing probabilities in such a way that we can choose between alternatives, namely “likelihood” vs “unlikelihood?” If so, is it not incumbent upon Plantinga and anyone who cites his argument to provide some numerical bases of comparison (as I asked of Phinehas)? Here is a quote from Wikipedia on Bayesian inference:

    Bayesian inference uses aspects of the scientific method, which involves collecting evidence that is meant to be consistent or inconsistent with a given hypothesis. As evidence accumulates, the degree of belief in a hypothesis changes. With enough evidence, it will often become very high or very low. Thus, proponents of Bayesian inference say that it can be used to discriminate between conflicting hypotheses: hypotheses with a very high degree of belief should be accepted as true and those with a very low degree of belief should be rejected as false. However, detractors say that this inference method may be biased due to initial beliefs that one needs to hold before any evidence is ever collected.

    Note the references to hypothesis and evidence.

    It’s even worse: The key proposition that you have so helpfully highlighted: Natural selection doesn’t care what you believe; it is interested only in how you behave assumes that what you believe is somehow disengaged from how you behave. But this is not only an unwarranted assumption, it is prima facie incorrect.

    Example: I have learned from experience that fire burns. This warrants my belief that fire burns. One behavioral manifestation of this belief is that I will run away from forest fires, thereby increasing the likelihood of my survival and subsequent opportunities to propagate.

  213. DK: I am pleasantly surprised to learn that we are not far apart in understanding that our beliefs about the material world must be tested against evidence (facts).

    Am I to take it then that you have abandoned your previous formulation of truth as “…a descriptive term for accurate accounting of experience (as in ‘I swear to give the whole truth and nothing but the truth’)?” You have agreed that this falls short, since it only covers, for example, what Tom believed in his recounting and not that thing which we must not conflate with belief? If so, then we are indeed not far apart.

    …I am curious to know what those “three big bang hurdles” are.

    Feel free to satisfy your curiosity by reading KF @ 180:

    KF: Now, notoriously [Cf. Denyse’s many posts on this here and at her own blogs], the C + N –> Cosmos view runs into difficulties with four “big bangs” and one corollary:

    [1] origin of a fine-tuned, life-habitable, scientifically observable cosmos;

    [2] origin of life based on immensely complex and functionally specified molecular information systems in DNA, RNA, enzymes, ribosomes, etc, which is well beyond the credible reach of C + N within the ambit of the observed cosmos

    [3] origin of body-plan level biodiversity on earth which requires the same information-generation and processing, moving across a bit length from about 1 Mbits to 3 – 4 Gbits, well beyond the reasonable reach of C + N on the scale just described.

    [4] origin of a credible mind [and of associated morality . . .] required to think through the issue.

    –> Our focus here is on 4, and the point is that as 49 summarised, evolutionary materialist mechanisms are asserted to be dynamically capable of achieving each of the four big bangs, on an inference to best explanation basis.

    Based on the following, I am now confused about whether or not we are close in our understanding of truth.

    DK: So the issue would then come down to whether it is plausible that purely natural processes could have generated mechanisms in living beings that enable those beings to correctly interract with the material world. Yes, I have rephrased your sentence; not to create a strawman, but to make a beginning towards explaining why I don’t buy it.

    Those who create strawmen always do so in order to make a beginning towards explaining why they don’t buy it. Why not explain why you don’t buy what I’ve said instead of explaining why you don’t buy what you’ve said? The fact that you’ve tried once again to redefine truth, this time as “correctly [interacting] with the material world” demonstrates that you still feel uncomfortable with how truth transcends beliefs or perceptions and are trying to slip a different concept of truth in the back door. How else to explain your rephrase?

    Why does it seem improbable to you? There must be an underlying assumption that warrants your skepticism.

    Must there be? So it is therefore impossible that there are instead underlying assumptions informing your faith in the power of RM + NS?

    Phin: The materialist has no warrant for believing that this is the case, which means EM undercuts its own beliefs regarding itself. In other words, it is incoherent.

    DK: I disagree. As I stated in my post #199:

    On the contrary, the materialist does not need an a priori warrant for trusting his beliefs.

    You say you disagree, but it seems pretty clear that you are not in fact disagreeing with my statement that “the materialist has no warrant.” On the contrary, you appear to be agreeing with that statement.

    If I touch a flame, I get burned. That is all the grounding I need for believing that flames can burn me.

    Sure, you have grounded your belief. As I’ve stated above, however, the issue isn’t the grounding of beliefs, but the grounding of that which must not be conflated with beliefs.

  214. P & DK (and others):

    The thread continues. However, it is a bit hard for me to interact because of the unresolved problem of the now plainly predictable m-piling. I will soldier on, due to the importance of this thread; a point that includes the issue raised in my post of yesterday, in which CD PERCEIVED design in the cosmos including in life-forms, but sought to lay that to one side on grounds of his incredulity of what God in his estimation would do as designer and creator.

    In short, the scientific issue of inference to design is inextricably tied to the question of the grounding and warranting of perceptions and of knowledge and truth claims. (Thence, too the problem of selective hyper-skepticism which injects not only question-begging but also inconsistency into the world of skeptical thought.)

    Now, following up on points:

    1] DK, 208: Asserting “the concept of truth transcends perception” is not logically equivalent to asserting that there is a subtance called “truth that transcends perception.”

    Of course we here see how DK’s rhetorical move of addressing only P gains him an “advantage.” For, he has here ignored the above discussion on how we imply and assume the existence of truth so soon as we assert that something is true – when we make a truth claim we accept that what is true says of what is, that it is, and of what is not, that it is not. And, Dk here plainly makes a claim that he intends be taken as truth not mere perception. So, the pretence that truth does not exist beyond perception self-refers, and undercuts itself.

    2] To say, “Tom had a perception,” gains nothing by elaborating, “It is true that Tom had a perception.”

    Now, of course what happens here follows from the correction just above: The second simply makes explicit what was in the first. Namely, someone is asserting that “[IT IS TRUE THAT] Tom had a perception.”

    And to make a truth claim is to go far beyond to simply state a proposition, P; “ Tom had a perception,” which may well have truth value 0 or 1 depending on circumstances. When we say that IT IS TRUE THAT P, we assert that, on whatever grounds and with whatever warrant, P is true, holding truth value 1. (And this was already long since pointed out, but simply ignored above.)

    Once we see these two corrections to DK’s argument, the whole pretence that truth is a suspect notion, an immaterial essence that one has to prove — by what standard, and how is such to be done without assuming or implying the very thing that was to be shown? — exists before it can pass muster, collapses of its own unsupported weight. For the skeptic, then, to try to make the objection, is forced to rely on the objective existence of what he wishes to make us doubt: truth.

    In short, that truth exists is undeniable on pain of self-referential absurdity such as we just saw. And, P cites a most telling def’n from DK on the point: a descriptive term for accurate accounting of experience [Just ask yourself, what does it imply to make an ACCURATE account of reality (here, as experienced), without immediately implying that truth says of what is, that it is, and of what is not, that it is not?]

    3] If there is a substance called “truth,” is there also a substance called “falsehood” or “untruth?” . . . Where does one stop in the creation of metaphysical entities?

    The answer is plain from Einstein’s observation that explanations should be as simple as possible but not simpler than that. Truth exists, as that which accurately refers to reality; error exists – undeniably so, BTW as shown supra – as that which intends to but fails to so refer. Errors are per definition, untrue or false. If the falsehood is intentional and by intent deceptive, we deal with a l-i-e. Each of these is credibly non-material indeed (no atom or neuronal discharge is true or false . . .) but so soon as we engage in serious interaction in a community the reality of all of these is immediately entailed.

    So, too, we can see that the EM account that hopes to doubt these is too simple – simplistic – and that the one who asserts selectively hyper-skeptical attempted rebuttals, immediately descends into self referential inconsistencies.

    Last but not least, William of Occam most indisputably accepted that truth exists, and that it is possible to be in error about it. That is the context for his recommendation that hypotheses should not be multiplied without necessity.

    4] DK, 211: the issue would then come down to whether it is plausible that purely natural processes could have generated mechanisms in living beings that enable those beings to correctly interract with the material world . . . . If natural selection had not enabled its products to interact factually with the world, those products, including human beings, would not be here.

    Of course, this neatly ignores the point actually made by Plantinga, as repeatedly excerpted [127, point 2, 203 point 3] and as linked [nb, sorry, link in 127 is broken; strange indeed . . . ] on the gap between what RM + NS rewards, adaptive BEHAVIOUR, and accuracy of belief systems that are in effect transparent to the behaviour:

    . . .

  215. . . . evolution is interested (so to speak) only in adaptive behavior, not in true belief. Natural selection doesn’t care what you believe; it is interested only in how you behave. It selects for certain kinds of behavior, those that enhance fitness, which is a measure of the chances that one’s genes are widely represented in the next and subsequent generations . . . But then the fact that we have evolved guarantees at most that we behave in certain ways–ways that contribute to our (or our ancestors’) surviving and reproducing in the environment in which we have developed . . . there are many belief-desire combinations that will lead to the adaptive action; in many of these combinations, the beliefs are false.

    P is therefore entirely correct to challenge: what seems entirely improbable is that RM + NS would result in beliefs or perceptions that actually reflect fact, or truth, or whatever else you want to call that thing which we must not conflate with beliefs. The materialist has no warrant for believing that this is the case, which means EM undercuts its own beliefs regarding itself. In other words, it is incoherent.

    In short, there are a great many ways to be wrong, and a comparatively few to be right. So, the proposed EM mechanism that in the end relies on chance and necessity is forced to try to hit a tightly coordinated, fine-tuned, complex target by chance in a vast space of possible outcomes. In short, again we see surfacing the core challenge to such mechanisms: the only known reliable mechanism for getting to such functionally specified, informationally complex and fine-tuned entities, is: intelligent agency.

    That is, we see here EM being – yet again [the same holds for the three previous big bangs: origin of the fine tuned cosmos, origin of the same type of information in cell-based life, origin of the same in body-plan level biodiversity (including of course origin of the brain), and now origin of the mind as an entity reasonably reliably capable of apprehending truth.] — dynamically incoherent and impotent. And, since this issue is one of the mind as a reasoning entity, self-referentially absurd.

    5] the materialist does not need an a priori warrant for trusting his beliefs. His warrant is experience and learning, which occur when the mind encounters the external world.

    The materialist here has reason to accept as credible, that his mind is capable of reasonably reliably apprehending truth. What he has not addressed is whether his worldview — which claims to account for all of reality as the product of materialistic evolutions from hydrogen to humans — is dynamically capable of supporting that reliability, thence, whether his position is simplistic: unable to account for a blatant fact he needs to even arrive at his belief system. Thence, self-stultification.

    6] DK, 212: “What are the data that can possibly be found to test Plantinga’s hypothesis?” He has provided none nor has be pointed to where such data may be found.

    Now, I must note with a bit of disappointment: ignoring or brushing aside evidence and reasoning is not at all the same as warranting the claim that such does not exist..

    Further to this, you have failed to seriously engage what Plantinga actually argues, in the article linked above (even failing a good link at 127, it is not hard to find online; try Naturalism Defeated plus AP’s name). Namely, that by the generally known assertion of NDT, RM + NS work on BEHAVIOUR not belief, which opens up the gap that Plantinga addresses in his formulation of one of the challenges faced by EM thinkers as they seek to ground the mind. [Note, too, I have always pointed out that Plantinga raises one of several objections, and have taken time to cite multiple cases of how EM thinkers consistently end up in self-referential absurdities when they seek to think about things of the mind and how they can be grounded relative to EM premises.]

    And since you failed to engage what Plantinga actually has to say about Bayesian probabilities, your citation on Bayes and remarks following are simply addressed to a strawman of your own making, not to the actual case to be answered.

    7] Natural selection doesn’t care what you believe; it is interested only in how you behave assumes that what you believe is somehow disengaged from how you behave. But this is not only an unwarranted assumption, it is prima facie incorrect.

    Again, you unfortunately address a strawman. It is blatant that beliefs and belief systems may be sharply de-coupled from behaviour, as Plantinga actually draws out in painstaking details in the paper. Cf for instance his discussion of the creature, “Paul.” [This too serves as an adequate counter to the case on fire that you mention. Yes, WE believe fire burns and thus fear it, but that is besides the point that EM mechanisms are utterly unable to account for the fact of a mind that is reasonably reliably capable of apprehending truth and acting into the physical world on it – here, hangs the whole Em-tinged debate on how our minds can be anything more than an epiphenomenon, an ineffective ghost that emerges somehow magically from the machine once it reaches a certain threshold of complexity . . . ].

    8] P, 213: As I’ve stated above, however, the issue isn’t the grounding of beliefs, but the grounding of that which must not be conflated with beliefs.

    P here states the bottom-line very well indeed. And, I can only add that it is painfully evident that EM thinkers have consistently failed to meet this challenge.

    GEM of TKI

  216. P#213:

    I thought after your #209 that we had agreement on some basic premises regarding the meaning of the word “truth,” but your latest seems to revert to an earlier stage in this discussion. So I despair of making further progress.

    Debates like this never end unless one party throws in the towel. Which is what I am doing now.

    It’ been a learning experience for me and I thank you and kf for taking me seriously enough to engage my postings.

    Despite your arguments, I still believe that I am moral and sane, so I will end where I started in my post #27 on August 21: “Pragmatism works for me.”

    All the best,

    DK

  217. Hey DK,

    I think in the end that we do believe the same thing about truth as revealed by:

    We must not conflate Tom’s belief about what he saw with the fact that he saw someone.

    Whatever that thing is here that we must not conflate with belief — that’s what I am calling truth. Unfortunately, for you to admit to this would sink your argument, since it rests precisely on conflating belief and truth as in:

    If I touch a flame, I get burned. That is all the grounding I need for believing that flames can burn me.

    I understand the precarious position this puts you in, and can appreciate the difficulty in pursuing this further.

    Despite your arguments, I still believe that I am moral and sane…

    If you are implying that either KF or I have argued that you are immoral or insane, then that is a grevous mis-characterization and a poor parting shot. It should be clear from previous posts that KF and I believe that your are both moral and sane. KF has said as much, so I hope he doesn’t mind me speaking for him. We don’t think that your materialism gives your grounding for trusting your belief about your own morality or sanity, but since we are not materialists, we don’t suffer from that same predicament at all, and can affirm with a good deal of confidence that you are both moral and sane. :D

    In any case, good luck. I hope your pragmatism continues to work for you. If you ever find it wanting, however, perhaps you’ll remember this conversation and consider looking beyond materialistic explanations for meaning and purpose in your life. :)

  218. All (esp P and DK):

    This has been a useful thread, m-pile problems notwithstanding.*

    In particular, astute onlookers will be able to see for themselves just how hard it is for EM thinkers to account for the 4th of the four big bangs faced by the EM thesis of origins by chance plus necessity from hydrogen to humans; as Ms Denise O’Leary speaks of in this blog and elsewhere. At least, without running afoul of the issue of self-referential inconsistency aptly summarised by P in 159 above (in turn a reasonably good summary of my own summary in 49 etc, and of the wider discussion on the issue of the self-referential undermining of EM as a worldview that claims to be grounded in and to ground “Science.” That in itself suggests the likelihood of a vicious logical circle . . .):

    I. Materialists believe that everything is physical.

    II. That means materialists must explain thought only in terms of the physical.

    III. The physical explanation for the origin of thought relies heavily on chance plus necessity.

    IV. There is no warrant for believing that chance plus necessity will result in accurate thinking patterns that lead to truth.

    V. Materialistic beliefs about thought are self-referentially incoherent since following them to their logical conclusion brings into question the reliability of thought itself.

    Of course, much of what we need to focus on lies in the details, but such a summary is helpful in highlighting the core issue. (NB: Plantinga’s discussion as linked is 58 tightly argued pages, and Dallas Willard’s is about 20. Reppert wrote a 128 p. book-length summary.)

    Of course, also, DK has announced his closing off, so this is my own final remark. [*NB: It is also my final focussed contribution in this blog under current m-pile circumstances, esp. given the unmet problem of how to resolve it. From time to time, I may make comments on points that are of importance, but not in any context that requires a back-forth, which the persistent m-piling hampers. However, I must express appreciation for the opportunity afforded since Feb or so, and for many useful exchanges that will help me in my own work here in the Caribbean.]

    Now, on a few final points of interest:

    1] Fare thee well, DK:

    I too appreciate the generally reasonable tone of this thread, and DK’s role in that. I trust that as he moves on, he will reflect on the issues that have surfaced, and the perhaps surp[rising to him gaps in EM as a worldview.

    2] Moral and sane?

    I concur with P in his remarks, noting only that our reasonableness is bounded by our finitude and fallibility; and that the sense in which we are moral includes that we struggle to live up to our moral intuitions.

    The challenge to EM thinkers is not that Materialists are immoral and insane [beyond the sadly usual run of all of us all too fallible s-i^n-ners], but that they lack a good warrant for their intuitive reliance on logical, factual and moral reasoning within their worldview, which points to its dynamical and logical incoherence – despite the often heard assertion that such a view is scientific and the only one credible for an educated person in the modern world.

    3] Pragmatism:

    For Americans especially, this is a hardy perennial as an approach to truth and knowledge (and even morality): in effect, if it “works,” it is credibly true or warranted as knowledge, or even in some cases “right.”

    But in fact, it falls afoul of several issues linked to the above discussion, and this is why almost 100 years ago, it was more or less abandoned at professional level in philosophy. (I am aware of Rorty’s attempted resurrection; I am not impressed.)

    Just to bring up a few: what does it mean to say that something “works”? What about the fact that sometimes things that “work” for a long time turn out to be falsified by further data [e.g. several major scientific theories]? What of things that initially did not work very well but later turned out to capture key insights that led to progress towards the truth? What of this: sometimes, things “work,” not because they are right, but because they are wrong but exploit the weaknesses of others and/or are backed up by power? And, does the point where something stops working mark where it suddenly changes from truth, knowledge or right to falsehood, error or wrong? Is that the same thing as what is normally meant by truth, knowledge and right?

    So, now,

    Cheers

    GEM of TKI

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