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11/12/11 11:05 PM
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micmac
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Several months ago you posted what I remember being a 10 point argument about what human evolution free from God must mean re: morality and law of the jungle type stuff. I found it quite interesting but can't remember the thread. Could you re-post it or a link here (if you have a clue what i am writing about)? Thank you. Phone Post
11/14/11 3:14 PM
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Ridgeback
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 It was a synopsis of John Gray's points in his book Straw Dogs:

  1. Mankind should recognize that we are not separate from animals in any way, we are animals, destructive animals, driven by instinct, reproductive urges and the need to survive.
  2. Our consciousness is not a unique, ordered, thoughtful, Descartian phenomena: it is a mess of conflicting actions and impulses, many of them submerged, subliminal, or so dominant as to ellipse any attempt at analysis: his conclusion is that we can never have total control over our minds and bodies, a basic component of some liberal and marxist thought, we can never be remade, remoulded or reborn, because our conscious self is the tip of a very mysterious iceberg (same goes for transhumanists, who Gray dismisses as utopians, his favourite attack slur).
  3. Individuals are not the most important factor of humanity, or at least, our individualism is as much an illusion as our conscious control, because both rest on a false pretense that we are conscious, intelligent, different from animals and separate from one another.
  4. Western philosophy, ethics, morals and religion seek to erase that point completely, and to emphasize our individuality and our ‘rationality’ and ‘will’ versus instinctual, mechanical animals, despite the fact that we are not different from them.
  5. Additionally, morality is a construct that excuses our fears and helps our vanity; morality does not exist because, at heart, we are animals, clever yes, organised yes, but our morality does not just come in from the cold, it is a veil we put over ourselves willingly to hide the truth.
  6. Our technology has always been beyond our control, it has always provided benefits behind our vision and disasters from our nightmares; technology, also, is independent of morality, that is, technological progress is not synonymous with moral progress.
  7. Human beings are homo rapiens, we plunder destroy and desecrate with little impunity, and this has always been and will be: we cannot be redeemed, because there is nothing to redeem, we are just well organized locusts.
  8. Christianity created the idea of purpose or meaning in life, deeper than just survival, and of ‘saving’ humanity, both ideas being wrong and foolish, because we are animals after all: we seek to escape from death through this creation of purpose and meaning, because the West is the civilization most afraid of death and the end, because of our conception of linear time and failure to include ourselves as part of nature.
  9. We are fixated on what ought to be, rather than what is, and so try and redeem, save or adjust the world: this is the ideological project of science, this is the project of Marxism, this is the project of liberal capitalism, and it is stupid. because, again, there is nothing to save.
  10. There is no such thing as progress, that is, of things getting better: science and technology may improve, but the human animal will not; purpose does not exist independent of human construction, history and civilizations have no grand plan, no superior march towards glorious progress, nor can that purpose be a moral redemption of mankind.
  
 
11/14/11 7:24 PM
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micmac
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Thanks! Phone Post
11/14/11 9:33 PM
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TheStewedOwl
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Bertrand Russell expressed it this way:

“That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins – all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's salvation henceforth be safely built.“

- Bertrand Russell, from “A Free Man’s Worship”
11/14/11 10:01 PM
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TheStewedOwl
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The philosopher Alvin Plantinga has argued that a strictly naturalist view of the origins of man ultimately leads to an extreme form of relativism, and ultimately leads to an inability to judge whether naturalism itself is true.

Plantinga argued in his "Warrant and Proper Function" that belief in naturalism can never be reasonable, using the following argument: the naturalist must embrace Darwinism to explain living organisms without having recourse to a supernatural explanation. If Darwinism is true, natural selection formed the traits of all living creatures – characteristics are preserved if they provide a competitive advantage in surviving to reach reproductive maturity and in having access to mates for reproduction.

Even if genetic mutations provide novel traits (without killing the mutant as a birth defect), fitness will be the sole determinant if those new traits are perpetuated within the gene pool.

Cognitive faculties are also the result of natural selection, including neurophysiology and chemistry. Fitness was the sole determinant of the viability of those faculties, the ability to recognize the objective truth (if such a value judgement can be said to exist in such a formulation) was not necessary. If the brain and “consciousness” / cognitive apparatus enables it to stay alive, the beliefs need not be true or even reasonable. Thus, there is no necessary connection between the cognitive system’s ability to improve survival, and the truth of the beliefs it produces. (A variation of this argument is often used by atheists to argue that religion is commonplace in human because it provides – or, they say, once provided – an evolutionary advantage, despite the supposed falsity of religious belief.)

So, is the truthfulness of a proposition connected to its improvement in our evolutionary fitness? Clearly, no. Geocentrism is false but provided great practicality to sailors, farmers, etc., as it made it easier to predict sunrise, sunset, the change of the seasons, etc.

If I have the mistaken belief that the federal government will arrest everyone who has credit card debt, I cut up all my credit cards, pay off all my debt, and live with cash. I now have the peace of mind of not having to worry about being arrested, and I am able to accelerate my mortgage payments. My false belief improves my life.

Or perhaps I hold the wholly unfounded belief that my good looks make me irresistible to women, and that encourages me to approach more women, thus increasing my evolutionary fitness and chances of reproduction. A false belief (trust me) but one which can improve my evolutionary fitness.

So, the practicality of a belief does not imply its truth. The practicality of an entire cognitive system does not guarantee that it is aimed at forming true beliefs.

So Plantinga’s argument tells us that if Naturalism is true, then we have no reason to be confident that any of our beliefs are actually true – including our belief in the truth of naturalism. If naturalism is true, we have no reason to believe it is true.

Plantinga contrasts this with Theism, which offers assurance that there is an objective Truth, and that God created and ordered our minds to form true beliefs. This provides adequate grounds for believing that thought reflects reality.

To call a cognitive system "reliable" presupposes that there is a purpose or goal at which our rational faculties aim, namely, the acquisition of truth. We consider our cognitive systems as reliable if they produce a preponderance of true beliefs. By saying this, we recognize that our cognitive systems have a function, namely the production of true beliefs.

If we say the cognitive system has a function, that suggests it was designed. Plantinga: “Human beings and their organs are so constructed that there is a way they should work, a way they are supposed to work, a way they work when they work right,” in other words, a design plan.

11/14/11 10:55 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 11/14/11 11:03 PM
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I'm not meaning to be picky, or pick on anyone... I think I understand the second post (Ridgeback's synopsis, that is) in its particulars. But there are some typos that make it a bit ambiguous. OK, "phenomenon" is singular (not "phenomena") so that's obvious. But I *think* for "ellipse" in point 2, it should be "eclipse" (?). Not easy to tell from someone who reads po-mo literature full of caesuras and lacunae and ... ellipses. Point 7 -- did you really mean to type "with little impunity"? I'm really not certain, but my guess is no. It's hard to be sure when someone is writing aphoristically to summarize soemthing else that is even more aphoristic. (Again, sorry if this appears to be nit-picking, because I'm really looking at things that might cause confusion, not just pointing out errors of typing or phraseology that we can figure out with a degree of certainty).

Other points are just... well, in the spirit Gray meant them, I suppose. Not supposed to be nuanced. So I'll leave that alone. (I DO think 'Straw Dogs' is as good as Gray gets, because when he gets more specific, and more strictly analytical, he's weaker. He's better at being "suggestive").
11/15/11 8:29 AM
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prof
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Edited: 11/15/11 8:45 AM
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Ali,

Given StewedOwl brought it up:

Are you familiar with Plantinga's EEAN? (Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism)?

If so, I'm curious about your thoughts on it.

I've taken it apart in detail various times, though I"m not sure if I've done so on the HG before. My view is that it's like the TAG (Transcendental Argument For God) used by presuppositionalists: A superficially clever-looking "gotcha" argument that falls apart when one identifies it's ridiculous assumptions.

Prof.
11/15/11 10:36 AM
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Ali
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Hi Prof --
I've read a fair amount of Plantinga at one point or other. I know in general terms what Plantinga's EEAN is about. But I can't claim real familiarity. It's all about how if we've truly evolved naturalistically, cognition is geared toward evolutionarily stable strategies of error. That is, doesn't get us to truth, just to reproduction.

Or something like that. Is it obvious I'm NOT really familiar? I haven't spent any time worrying through that literature in a while. I've heard it referenced in interviews and such. (Another aside, there's a cool Andy Thomson lecture on evolution-of-belief, or believingness, on youtube as one of the RDF lectures).

If you have old posts where you've taken EEAN apart, at least if they present enough of what it is to be followable by someone who is only sort of aware in broad outline of what it is, I'd love to see it.

Plantinga is baffling to me. Clearly a smart dude, but also so wacky when he gets into fighting on the biologists' ground.
11/15/11 11:07 AM
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prof
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Ali,

There is really so much wrong in Plantinga's EEAN, so many absurdities flower from it's off-track assumptions when you consider it, that deconstructions of his argument can be quite lengthy. I'm pretty busy with work right now, but I'll try to get around to posting a sort of "nutshell version" of a critique. (In this thread...not sure how soon I can do so).

Prof.
11/15/11 11:32 AM
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Ali
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If you've posted elsewhere, give me a link. Or don't if it's too much. It's just since you brought it up.... I assumed you were offering. No obligations on my behalf!

I'm confident I can find some argument/debate/debunking should I want to pursue it. I'm interested because you brought it up.
11/15/11 8:43 PM
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Ali
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And this late in the game -- I finally took the time to read TheStewedOwl's post. Yeah, I've run into this line of argument, attributed to Plantinga, without having read Plantinga's own presentation of the argument. Superficially, it looks pretty bad. I'm sure it is in some ways better than it looks (superficially), but there are many more absurdities that are also less superficial. But the dude has been in bed with the ID folks for a couple/few decades now. Which tells you most of what you need to know when he starts talking about evolution. Or naturalism.
11/16/11 2:32 AM
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Ridgeback
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Ali - I'm not meaning to be picky, or pick on anyone... I think I understand the second post (Ridgeback's synopsis, that is) in its particulars. But there are some typos that make it a bit ambiguous. OK, "phenomenon" is singular (not "phenomena") so that's obvious. But I *think* for "ellipse" in point 2, it should be "eclipse" (?). Not easy to tell from someone who reads po-mo literature full of caesuras and lacunae and ... ellipses. Point 7 -- did you really mean to type "with little impunity"? I'm really not certain, but my guess is no. It's hard to be sure when someone is writing aphoristically to summarize soemthing else that is even more aphoristic. (Again, sorry if this appears to be nit-picking, because I'm really looking at things that might cause confusion, not just pointing out errors of typing or phraseology that we can figure out with a degree of certainty).

Other points are just... well, in the spirit Gray meant them, I suppose. Not supposed to be nuanced. So I'll leave that alone. (I DO think 'Straw Dogs' is as good as Gray gets, because when he gets more specific, and more strictly analytical, he's weaker. He's better at being "suggestive").

 For the record, it wasn't my synopsis.  I just snagged it off a website for a thread about considering how the declaration that "God is dead" means things can't just stay as they are.  I believe Nietszche first made this point.  Sartre certainly pointed it out.  I found JS Mill hopelessly naive about morality.  He even admired Manicheism, which is logically incoherent.  
11/16/11 2:33 AM
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Ridgeback
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I once gave Plantinga's email address to Prof. so he could finally put this silly argument to rest, but he declined the offer.  Since then, Plantinga has continued to spread this argument through lectures and books.  Maybe Ali will finally step to the plate and end his career. 
11/16/11 9:34 AM
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Ali
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Edited: 11/16/11 10:50 AM
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Huh? End Plantinga's career?
Or Prof's?
And does this take "stepping up to the plate"? Is this something that's been on a whole lot of people's agenda?
Neither such goal would be within my power. Neither such goal interests me at all, either.
I'm perfectly willing to admit Plantinga and William Lane Craig and LOTS of such folks are way smarter than I, and way more articulate. This doesn't make them interesting to me -- not to read, anyway. I'd dig hanging and talking with them, probably.

Plantinga also has critics that are considerably more able than I, and has been somewhat busy with them if my cursory glance through Wikipedia is any indication.

I'd like to read Prof's criticism (clearly Ridge, you think it's "silly" but I'm not sure on what grounds -- that is, if Plantinga is so clearly "correct" or just, as it reads, the argument put forward on this thread is silly in the first place!)

Thanks for clearing up that the synposis of Gray wasn't yours. I'm pretty sure that what I suspect is a typo is a typo, then. Which is good, because it's better the way I read it than the way it's written in those small instances. And if it's lifted from another forum (?), typos are to be expected.
11/16/11 11:43 AM
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prof
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Uhm...

Plantinga has been defending his argument for a long time. There are whole books devoted to back and forth between Planginga and critiques of his EEAN.

I'm always astonished to read or hear Plantinga's replies as they just seem essentially deaf to the points being made. He can repeat the criticism often enough, but his replies tend to be in the form of "Nevertheless, I don't see how it could be..." followed by essentially a re-stating of his argument. I don't see any reason to expect new answers should he answer me, either.

Given the huge amount of criticism Plantinga has already encountered, much of it by fellow professional philosophers, it's not like I'm going to change Plantinga's mind about his argument.

Same goes for writing to W.L.Craig, or Swinburne, or N.T. Wright, or...The Pope for that matter. It's not like their minds are going to be changed personally interacting with what I write.

When an argument has been made public, it can be more fruitful to expose fallacies to the wider "audience" than try to change the mind of any of these guys. It can at least be interesting to critique the arguments, and if we are lucky, enlightening.

Prof.

11/16/11 12:45 PM
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Ridgeback
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Ali - Huh? End Plantinga's career?
Or Prof's?
And does this take "stepping up to the plate"? Is this something that's been on a whole lot of people's agenda?
Neither such goal would be within my power. Neither such goal interests me at all, either.
I'm perfectly willing to admit Plantinga and William Lane Craig and LOTS of such folks are way smarter than I, and way more articulate. This doesn't make them interesting to me -- not to read, anyway. I'd dig hanging and talking with them, probably.

Plantinga also has critics that are considerably more able than I, and has been somewhat busy with them if my cursory glance through Wikipedia is any indication.

I'd like to read Prof's criticism (clearly Ridge, you think it's "silly" but I'm not sure on what grounds -- that is, if Plantinga is so clearly "correct" or just, as it reads, the argument put forward on this thread is silly in the first place!)

Thanks for clearing up that the synposis of Gray wasn't yours. I'm pretty sure that what I suspect is a typo is a typo, then. Which is good, because it's better the way I read it than the way it's written in those small instances. And if it's lifted from another forum (?), typos are to be expected.

 I am making a joke about how delusional prof is about his abilities.  Plantinga has obviously carved out a reputation for a reason.  Acting like his arguments are so very easy to take down is just delusional.  I don't have a problem with people taking on his arguments, and I am not sure if I agree with his naturalism and atheism argument noted above, but the sheer arrogance of Prof. when it comes to someone who is so far beyond his league is just too much to bear.  Then again, he did name himself "Prof." so what do you expect?  
11/16/11 1:23 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 11/16/11 9:41 PM
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And my 'stepping up to the plate' was, presumably, a swipe at my arrogance, too?

I don't think anyone should be at all be surprised if Prof could take down the arguments Plantinga makes for EEAN. If I were to read the rebuttal I'd have a better idea. Have you read it? Plantinga has an army of critics, several who are super smart, and I'd be surprised if Prof hadn't worked his way through at least some of this literature.

I agree that claims to intellectual battle should be met with suspicion, still. But so far Prof has demonstrated a good degree of mastery of a range of atheist arguments, wouldn't you agree? And even when I think I know them pretty well myself, I haven't the talent to present so orderly posts on the forum. Certainly not the patience... which probably means the talent for doing so quickly. So I remain interested in reading Prof's rebuttal.

By the way, I think sometimes people who have a much higher I.Q. than I and have prestige in academia do make arguments that are fairly easily dismantled.

I called out Christopher Ricks on one of his Tennyson essays, and got him to agree with me that his reading was (in part) way off base. I'm not a better reader (and certainly not one of Tennyson) than Christopher Ricks. I'm still a bit in awe of the dude, actually. Just sometimes... y'know.
11/17/11 12:39 AM
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Ridgeback
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Ali - And my 'stepping up to the plate' was, presumably, a swipe at my arrogance, too?

I don't think anyone should be at all be surprised if Prof could take down the arguments Plantinga makes for EEAN. If I were to read the rebuttal I'd have a better idea. Have you read it? Plantinga has an army of critics, several who are super smart, and I'd be surprised if Prof hadn't worked his way through at least some of this literature.

I agree that claims to intellectual battle should be met with suspicion, still. But so far Prof has demonstrated a good degree of mastery of a range of atheist arguments, wouldn't you agree? And even when I think I know them pretty well myself, I haven't the talent to present so orderly posts on the forum. Certainly not the patience... which probably means the talent for doing so quickly. So I remain interested in reading Prof's rebuttal.

By the way, I think sometimes people who have a much higher I.Q. than I and have prestige in academia do make arguments that are fairly easily dismantled.

I called out Christopher Ricks on one of his Tennyson essays, and got him to agree with me that his reading was (in part) way off base. I'm not a better reader (and certainly not one of Tennyson) than Christopher Ricks. I'm still a bit in awe of the dude, actually. Just sometimes... y'know.

 No, it was a jab at Prof. only.  I used you to demonstrate how ludicrous it was to pretend like Plantinga is so easily refuted.  It isn't like there aren't people in his field gunning for him all the time.  And I have his email address if you would like to take him on.  

And yes of course Prof. is a smart guy and understands the "range of atheist arguments" well.  That doesn't make him ready to take on someone like Plantinga.  I am trying to encourage a little humility here.  I don't even consider Plantinga anything like my favorite philosopher, but I respect that he is no dummy and his education and experience are both extensive enough that we shouldn't act like his arguments are easily refuted.  

And I doubt Prof. has read Plantinga's books like Warranted Christian Belief and God and Other Minds.  He does public lectures, but in those situations he is translating very complex arguments to lay audiences who simply can't hold a string of syllogisms together in their heads straight.  


11/17/11 1:37 AM
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Ali
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Edited: 11/17/11 1:44 AM
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Cool -- I wasn't offended so much as just think I'm a poor choice for a stick to beat someone with! But enough of that.

Sometimes you can take on a particular argument with your superiors, and do very well, though. (I'm repeating myself -- that was the point of my Christopher Ricks story).

Anyway, I'd like to see what Prof has to say about EEAN. And if that's too much of a burden for Prof, that's ok -- I'd also like to read what how Stephen Law "takes on" that argument, and I can do that, too. Or instead.
11/17/11 11:45 AM
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prof
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Edited: 11/17/11 11:49 AM
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Ali,

Ridgeback reflects the common "new atheist critique" tactic of playing the "naivete" and "hubris" card...in other words, ad hominem instead of really showing what is wrong with our arguments.

Ridgeback surely acknowledges Richard Dawkins as an authority in his field and must acknowledge Dawkins is held in very high esteem as a brilliant scientist/educator. And yet Ridgeback is "arrogant" enough to think Dawkins is wrong and to regularly ridicule Dawkins as simple, naive and mistaken. For one thing, Ridgeback would think Dawkins wrong that evolution provides the explanation for how mankind evolved without the input of a God. How hubristic of Ridgeback to challenge a world-regarded authority like Dawkins!

Further, Ridgeback will likely feel comfortable critisizing Dawkins on the grounds that, while Dawkins may be a fine evolutionary scientist, once Dawkins strays outside his scientific field into religion, the faults in Dawkins' arguments and assumptions about religion become obvious. Then, hey, no problem to ridicule Dawkins even by non-authorities like Ridgeback.

Guess what? We have Plantinga in the same situation. Plantinga is an analytic philosopher, not a biologist or scientist. When Plantinga makes his EVOLUTIONARY Argument Against Naturalism, that strays outside Plantinga's specialty into the arena of evolution theory, science etc.
And when he does so, for those familiar with science, evolution (and philosophy for that matter) the faults in Plantinga's assumptions become much easier to spot.

Now, I have not said that Plantinga's argument is "easily refuted." I said Plantinga's EEAN is: "A superficially clever-looking "gotcha" argument that falls apart when one identifies it's ridiculous assumptions." That is not the same as saying it's easily refuted, as if anyone at all can immediately refute it.

It's like the Ontological Argument, or the Transcendental Arguments: When a skeptic is first introduced to the arguments it can immediately strike him that there is something wrong with the arguments. Yet that doesn't mean it's easy to immediately detect exactly WHAT is wrong. It does tend to take some familiarity with philosophy, religion etc to do so.

Same with Plantinga's argument. It presents a "gotcha" for naturalists (or non-theists who believe in evolution), and in fact even a non-philosophically/scientifically educated skeptic's first impulse in responding would generally be correct. Except that's not the same things as identifying the problems in Plantinga's argument and doing THAT does tend to take some familiarity with philosophical ideas and some of the necessary science.

But WITH such familiarity you can identify the problems in Plantinga's argument and therefore CAN identify that there really are some ridiculous assumptions, from which absurdities spring, including the conclusion of his argument.

I'm not arguing from some vacuum, like I came up with everything myself. I've been reading the debates over Plantinga's EEAN for many years, and so my objections obviously benefit from the work done by professional philosophers, not must little old me. But I must say that, generally speaking, when I went through his argument originally the faultiness of the assumptions seemed pretty apparent, and much of what I read of professional philosophers tended to be re-affirmations of those flaws (with some expansions, of course).

The thing is that Plantinga's writing can look quite daunting, strewn with his inimitable "defeater"-strewn jargon, and often formalized presentation of probabilities (some of it based on Bayesian probability, Plantinga's use of Bayesian probabilities is also disputed, btw). So it's easy to imagine someone looking at it and thinking "How can some rube, not engaging the very clinical formulas, get past this? You have to be a professional analytic philosopher to get in there and really identify the errors."

That's not the case. Here's the reason why: Plantinga wants to argue that the probability of truthful, rational faculties on evolution/naturalism is low or inscrutable, and hence it can not be rationally justified to accept the conjunction of evolution/naturalism. But BEFORE moving on to any probability calculations Plantinga MUST establish the assumptions he is working with, from which his calculations
follow. It is in that early phase, before his calculations begin, that you can identify Plantinga's flawed assumptions.
He has to get evolution theory right, for one thing. And he has to come up with plausible, alternative "defeater" scenarios while getting evolution theory right for another.
In other words, he has to provide examples of how his initial assumptions would be plausible.

Obviously, if you can identify the implausibility of those examples and assumptions, it doesn't matter how much abstruse calculations follow from those assumptions, since calculations about the real world, built on unsound assumptions aren't worth a damn.

And, yeah, I can identify the faults in those assumptions, as many, many others have as well.

As I've mentioned often before, when I started getting more heavily into science and philosophy (late teens, onward) I was left wondering about the large number of people in the world who believed in their religion. And especially about the fact that many obviously brilliant people had believed in God. So I started looking at their various arguments figuring there must be some pretty impressive reasons for theism that I wasn't aware of. And yet over and over the experience I had on reading many of the "best" arguments from brilliant theists was: "Are you kidding? That's it? That's flawed...ok...maybe someone else has a better argument..."

Over and over I was amazed at how regularly theologians and theistic philosophers could reason well off the subject of God, and then when it came to God or their religion, things would just go off the rails, with fallacies and unfounded assumptions lighting up like neon. This has been such a persistent observation: that the thinking of the most brilliant people can be rendered just plain silly when they have an emotional stake in their religion.

(That's not to say all theism is irrational or dumb...I don't think that).

W.L. Craig, for instance, is brilliant and eurodite. And I can find him quite good on some subjects that are not directly related to religion. But once it comes to his arguments for his religion, the way he suddenly allows himself the most egregious assumptions and leaps in logic can be jaw-dropping. I hardly think I need lay down in silence before his erudition, rather than identify the flaws as I see them!

Same goes for any argument by theists, Plantinga included.

Anyway...trying to get to the critique of Plantinga's EEAN.
The problem is there is so much one can write about it's flaws, it can be tough to reign it in to a more digestible post. And I do enjoy the challenge of elucidating complex issues in understandable language, because it takes understanding of the issues to do so, and hence forces me to get as firm a grasp on the arguments as possible.

Prof.
11/17/11 11:21 PM
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Ali
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Thanks Prof -- you bring up many side-points I think worth discussing, or responding to. But I think the main points aren't, really, addressed to me (!)

I enjoyed reading them, and yeah, we're on the same page pretty much. Certainly people who are intellectual rock stars are sometimes very wrong in very obvious ways. (One reason I mention Craig somewhat regularly -- I KNOW the dude has a much higher I.Q. than I do, if that's what we mean by "smart" or "brilliant' or whatever. And I think some of his arguments are downright silly. Whether that's because of an emotional investment or some other type of investment I'm not sure. Probably both).

And I think you (Prof) are very good at "elucidating complex issues in understandable language" and always appreciate being the beneficiary of that.

I'm not altogether into some of the arguments that happen here -- I have my prickly side, too, but mostly if I were to post responses to everything I disagreed with, I wouldn't have time to do other things. Partly because I'm not as facile with the argumentation as I wish, and partly because I lose interest. But it IS interesting to learn from some other articulate folks, even if that doesn't mean being convinced.

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