Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)

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Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)

Postby Kurieuo » Wed Mar 11, 2015 7:17 am

Edit: 30 June 2015
Preface: You can read all below, but in retrospect I wasn't very clear.
Highly recommend instead starting with Plantinga's own description of the argument here:

This is part 1 of a 6 parts series (about an hour combined together).
Once you get the gist of the argument, then what I say below ought to make greater sense where I really do perhaps just jump right in.

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Alvin Plantinga has made this one of his personal arguments.
When appropriately framed, this is one main reason I believe one must necessarily be Theist if they're to rationally accept the ToE as true.

According to Theism, we human beings and all Creation have been created by a wholly good, all-knowing Being (i.e., God).
Furthermore, in Theistic belief systems like Judaism and Christianity it is said that we are created in God's image.
A part of that image, involves, the reliability of cognitive faculties and ability to know things about ourselves and the world, as Thomas Aquinas says:
"Since human beings are said to be in the image of God including a human nature involving an intellect."
And so, only in rational creatures, creatures with reason, is there found a likeness of God.

So what are our cognitive faculties there for?
Most of us would think that at least one function of our cognitive faculties is to provide us with true beliefs.
And when they're functioning properly, when there's no malfunctioning, and for the most part that's what they do.

Now contrast the Theistic grounding for reliable cognitive faculties against Naturalism.
Naturalism says all of what we see exists only minus God out of the picture.
Some popular Naturalists would be Carl Sagan ("the cosmos is all there is, or ever has been, or ever will be"), Stephen J Gould, David Armstrong, Darwin (later in life), Bertrand Russel, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dannet and the like.

Isn't there a problem here for the Naturalist?
That is, the Naturalist who believes that we and our cognitive faculties have arrived on the scene by Evolution.
After some billions years of evolution, by the way of natural selection, genetic drift and other blind processes working on sources of genetic variation like random genetic mutation.
Isn't there a problem? If this is the way we should think of it, then shouldn't we be surprised that our rational faculties are in fact reliable?
If Naturalism and Evolution are both true, it seems greatly improbable that our cognitive faculties (memories, reasoning, etc) would in fact result in true beliefs.

Given this, if you believe in both Naturalism and Evolution, then you have a defeater for believing your cognitive faculties are reliable.
But, we can hardly deny what seems intuitive to us -- that is, our cognitive faculties do provide us with true information about the world.
We can no further deny this then we could unflinchingly cut off our own arm (now perhaps some wierdo could do that, but you get what I mean).
So it turns out that we have a defeater for belief in both "Naturalism" and "Evolution" together. One of these must be dropped.
And if Evolution is beyond scientific doubt, we must then drop Naturalism.

Dawkins has stated that Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled Atheist.
It is rather ironic that it seems to be more the case that Darwin's theory actually makes it irrational to be an Atheist.

How the words of the Agnostic Robert Jastrow seem to ring true:

    For the scientist who has lived by faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.
Last edited by Kurieuo on Tue Jun 30, 2015 5:03 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)

Postby Morny » Wed Mar 11, 2015 8:06 am

Kurieuo wrote:Isn't there a problem here for the Naturalist?
That is, the Naturalist who believes that we and our cognitive faculties have arrived on the scene by Evolution.
After some billions years of evolution, by the way of natural selection, genetic drift and other blind processes working on sources of genetic variation like random genetic mutation.
Isn't there a problem? If this is the way we should think of it, then shouldn't we be surprised that our rational faculties are in fact reliable?

I don't see the problem and I'm not surprised. Independent of whether you're an atheist or Christian, natural selection favors animals that make more reliable deductions about the world.

Kurieuo wrote:If Naturalism and Evolution are both true, it seems greatly improbable that our cognitive faculties (memories, reasoning, etc) would in fact result in true beliefs.

You're mixing concepts in an odd way. Evolution assumes methodological naturalism, which is a concept compatible with both atheism and Christianity.

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Re: Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)

Postby PaulSacramento » Wed Mar 11, 2015 8:11 am

One must define nature and naturalism first.

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Re: Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)

Postby Audie » Wed Mar 11, 2015 10:32 am

K, could you reduce that to a few bullet points?

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Re: Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)

Postby Kurieuo » Wed Mar 11, 2015 3:16 pm

Morny wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:Isn't there a problem here for the Naturalist?
That is, the Naturalist who believes that we and our cognitive faculties have arrived on the scene by Evolution.
After some billions years of evolution, by the way of natural selection, genetic drift and other blind processes working on sources of genetic variation like random genetic mutation.
Isn't there a problem? If this is the way we should think of it, then shouldn't we be surprised that our rational faculties are in fact reliable?

I don't see the problem and I'm not surprised. Independent of whether you're an atheist or Christian, natural selection favors animals that make more reliable deductions about the world.

Yes, so evolution is not in dispute then is it? ;)

Morny wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:If Naturalism and Evolution are both true, it seems greatly improbable that our cognitive faculties (memories, reasoning, etc) would in fact result in true beliefs.

You're mixing concepts in an odd way. Evolution assumes methodological naturalism, which is a concept compatible with both atheism and Christianity.

Philosophical/metaphysical Naturalism is obviously not neutral.
I did define this as the intended form of Naturalism.

Also, I recall having an exchange with you on Methodological Naturalism in the past.
I'd have to revisit the issue, but after reflecting further upon it further I came to the conclusion that Methodological Naturalism is NOT compatible with Christianity or belief in God. Since it does embed within it assumptions and premises that contradict such. I'd have to revisit it, but I don't want to do this here. But, ultimately I saw MN boils down to philosophical Naturalism, only perhaps in disguise.
Last edited by Kurieuo on Wed Mar 11, 2015 4:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)

Postby Kurieuo » Wed Mar 11, 2015 5:13 pm

(I've revised this since originally posting to flow more clearly, so please re-read if you have read it before seeing this note)

Audie wrote:K, could you reduce that to a few bullet points?

Don't expect this to be air tight as I'm writing it out off the top of my head.

A form (the form off the top of my head) of Plantinga's EAAN could go something like this:

  • To have rationally justified and coherent beliefs we need to be able to accept that our 'rational faculties are indeed truth-conducive' (R).
  • Having confidence in the reliability of a 'mechanistic evolution' (E) to produce R, hinges upon whether E is planned with the goal of producing R.
  • Naturalism (N), that is '"the cosmos is all there is, or ever has been, or ever will be" without the existence of god/gods', does not have R as one of its goals - it doesn't really have any goals.
  • Therefore if one accepts R&E, then one has to reject N.

  • Furthermore, if you accept the probability of R would be low given N&E, then you have a defeater for R (and any belief that you hold).
  • If you have a defeater for R than any beliefs based on N&E ought to be rejected.
  • But, we accept the truth of R (and believe we hold true beliefs), so we must reject either N or E.
  • If we believe E is confirmed beyond all scientific doubt, then we must reject N.
  • Alternatively, 'A loving God who wants us to know truth as in Theism' (T) would provide R.
  • Therefore T&E is the most rational conclusion.
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Re: Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)

Postby Morny » Wed Mar 11, 2015 7:26 pm

Kurieuo wrote:Philosophical/metaphysical Naturalism is obviously not neutral.
I did define this as the intended form of Naturalism.

Also, I recall having an exchange with you on Methodological Naturalism in the past.
I'd have to revisit the issue, but after reflecting further upon it further I came to the conclusion that Methodological Naturalism is NOT compatible with Christianity or belief in God. Since it does embed within it assumptions and premises that contradict such. I'd have to revisit it, but I don't want to do this here. But, ultimately I saw MN boils down to philosophical Naturalism, only perhaps in disguise.

Not talking about MN on this thread is fine. But conflating naturalism (as per your definition) intrinsically with the testing and refining of evolution is a mistake that atheist and Christian biologist scientists alike don't make.

The scientific method itself excludes philosophical/metaphysical naturalism, for the very reason that those philosophical ideas are untestable.

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Re: Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)

Postby Kurieuo » Wed Mar 11, 2015 7:36 pm

There's no conflating.
I've been quite clear in my definition of Naturalism here.
And evolution as something clearly distinct. Otherwise the argument wouldn't work.
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Re: Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)

Postby abelcainsbrother » Wed Mar 11, 2015 8:03 pm

I like to say it like this, even if evolution is true?naturalistic science cannot in just only just 150 years believe and teach by science there is no reason to believe a God created it or started it without any evidence that can demonstrate it,yet you do.Man has always believed in a God since the first man and religion is much much older than your imagination theory of naturalism that requires way way much more faith to believe than to believe in a creator.Believing in a God is the normal thing to do and is the defalt position as a human only a small minority of people don't.2000 years since Jesus and widespread world wide belief compared to only just 150 years of make believe science.
Hebrews 12:2-3 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,despising the shame,and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

2nd Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not,lest the light of this glorious gospel of Christ,who is the image of God,should shine unto them.

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Re: Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)

Postby Morny » Thu Mar 12, 2015 5:47 am

Kurieuo wrote:There's no conflating.
I've been quite clear in my definition of Naturalism here.
And evolution as something clearly distinct. Otherwise the argument wouldn't work.

OK, I admit I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer - I'm not following the "clarity" of your point. Where specifically does the scientific testing and refining of evolution use concepts of what you mean by philosophical/metaphysical naturalism?

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Re: Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)

Postby Kurieuo » Thu Mar 12, 2015 3:03 pm

Morny wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:There's no conflating.
I've been quite clear in my definition of Naturalism here.
And evolution as something clearly distinct. Otherwise the argument wouldn't work.

OK, I admit I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer - I'm not following the "clarity" of your point. Where specifically does the scientific testing and refining of evolution use concepts of what you mean by philosophical/metaphysical naturalism?

It doesn't. Any lack of clarity is obviously my fault. Really. (I'm not saying that with sarcasm)
The argument doesn't state that Naturalism (philosophical) is used in science or evolution.

Maybe read my second follow up post to Audie asking for point form (and ignore the first).
My wife who was looking over my shoulder at the time, went over it and edited to flow more clearly. :lol:
So it shouldn't be too much "Kurieuo only knows what he himself is saying."

Failing that, just do a search for "evolutionary argument against naturalism".
As with every argument, you'll find people for it and others who push back on it.
It's a fairly well debated recent argument within philosophy of religion.
So I would be extremely surprised if conflating was going on.

Given that is so, then obviously it's something I said that is confusing you.

All the best.
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Re: Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)

Postby Morny » Thu Mar 12, 2015 5:25 pm

Kurieuo wrote:Maybe read my second follow up post to Audie asking for point form (and ignore the first).

OK.
I have issues with the 1st bullet above, but I'll let them pass.

But what is the evidence for the 2nd bullet, viz., Having confidence in the reliability of a 'mechanistic evolution' (E) to produce R, hinges upon whether E is planned with the goal of producing R.

Without testable evidence, that 2nd bullet is either "begging the question," or "arguing from ignorance."

Kurieuo wrote:Failing that, just do a search for "evolutionary argument against naturalism".

OK, from Wikipedia:
"The evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN) is a philosophical argument regarding a perceived tension between biological evolutionary theory and philosophical naturalism"

PN concepts are untestable, and so cannot create "tension" with evolution, any more than saying that "only so many fairies can fit on the head of a pin and no more" creates "tension" with evolution.

You don't have to agree with my conclusions, but unless you can give testable PN predictions, the whole approach seems irrelevant to science, much less to evolution. And BTW, I also just noticed that scientists on the web seem to have the same attitude about this EAAN topic.

Kurieuo wrote:It's a fairly well debated recent argument within philosophy of religion.

Has any religious or philosophical debate ever had any impact on our scientific understanding of the world? (That's a serious question.) Now that I understand that no one is really questioning science, I'm not needed here. But you guys/gals can continue.

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Re: Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)

Postby bippy123 » Thu Mar 12, 2015 5:35 pm

Morny wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:Maybe read my second follow up post to Audie asking for point form (and ignore the first).

OK.
I have issues with the 1st bullet above, but I'll let them pass.

But what is the evidence for the 2nd bullet, viz., Having confidence in the reliability of a 'mechanistic evolution' (E) to produce R, hinges upon whether E is planned with the goal of producing R.

Without testable evidence, that 2nd bullet is either "begging the question," or "arguing from ignorance."

Kurieuo wrote:Failing that, just do a search for "evolutionary argument against naturalism".

OK, from Wikipedia:
"The evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN) is a philosophical argument regarding a perceived tension between biological evolutionary theory and philosophical naturalism"

PN concepts are untestable, and so cannot create "tension" with evolution, any more than saying that "only so many fairies can fit on the head of a pin and no more" creates "tension" with evolution.

You don't have to agree with my conclusions, but unless you can give testable PN predictions, the whole approach seems irrelevant to science, much less to evolution. And BTW, I also just noticed that scientists on the web seem to have the same attitude about this EAAN topic.

Kurieuo wrote:It's a fairly well debated recent argument within philosophy of religion.

Has any religious or philosophical debate ever had any impact on our scientific understanding of the world? (That's a serious question.) Now that I understand that no one is really questioning science, I'm not needed here. But you guys/gals can continue.

Sorry to let you in on this morny but philosohy proceeds science . Most honest scientists know this and they make metaphysical interpretations of evidence all the time.

No me questions science as long as it's done the right way and scientists know its limits , but once they believe that science is the purveyor of all truth that's when it turns into the cult if scientism which it's itself not empirically provable.

The original definition of science is one that is less dogmatic and narrow minded and that is what the ancient Greeks followed which means to gain knowledge .

We are currently living in a materialistic paradigm which is a philosophical position taken in science .

So in a way i am questioning science but in a way I am not .

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Re: Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)

Postby Kurieuo » Thu Mar 12, 2015 5:59 pm

@Morny, those empiricist-leaning "scientists" would probably be in Hawking's camp who said, "Philosophy is dead."

As Bippy pointed out, science itself is built upon a philosophy about how we go about knowing things. So the irony of such a statement, well... I suppose that's why many pop scientists are oblivious to their philosophy being mixed in with their science.

Surely, you're not in a camp that is strictly empiricist (that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience)?

In any case, everyone has their own personal worldview.
Some worldviews just fit with what we know about the world better.

If you prefer not to contemplate such matters, which form the basis to a deeper understanding of questions about life, meaning, purpose and the like, then I suppose our discussion is really at an end.
Why are you even on this board though? y:-?
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Re: Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)

Postby bippy123 » Thu Mar 12, 2015 6:30 pm

Kurieuo wrote:@Morny, those empiricist-leaning "scientists" would probably be in Hawking's camp who said, "Philosophy is dead."

As Bippy pointed out, science itself is built upon a philosophy about how we go about knowing things. So the irony of such a statement, well... I suppose that's why many pop scientists are oblivious to their philosophy being mixed in with their science.

Surely, you're not in a camp that is strictly empiricist (that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience)?

In any case, everyone has their own personal worldview.
Some worldviews just fit with what we know about the world better.

If you prefer not to contemplate such matters, which form the basis to a deeper understanding of questions about life, meaning, purpose and the like, then I suppose our discussion is really at an end.
Why are you even on this board though? y:-?

Professor Joseph Needham the famous sinnologist (study of all things Chinese also warned of the dangers of scientism as a much too narrow worldview to get to all truths. Professor Needham was an unbeliever as is professor nagel who also does t follow a strict scientism interpretation of science , and when asked if he believes in God said that he wishes and hopes that there is no God because he hates the idea of a cosmic dictator but also is close to believing in an immaterial reality .

And of course professor nagel is ostracized by the scientific community because his PHILOSOPHICAL views are different then the PHILOSOPHICAL views of the current materialistic paradigm.
emphasis on PHILOSOPHICAL ;)


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